Azkals hope to earn needed 3 points vs Palestine

Denied at the last minute the last time out, the Philippine Azkals resume their bid to earn a much-needed win worth three points when they face Palestine on Wednesday in the AFC Challenge Cup Group Round at the Thuwana Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Azkals were held to a 1-1 draw by Myanmar (No. 161 in the FIFA world rankings) on Monday, with the visitors allowing the hosts’ Khin Maung Lwin to tie the match with a late injury-time goal.

Khin scored on a free kick off a foul by Simon Greatwich in the 92nd minute.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said President Noynoy Aquino is monitoring the games, and congratulated the Azkals despite the draw against Myanmar.

The Azkals will be facing a Palestine side which is 27 places lower in the FIFA World rankings at 171, but which is fresh from a 2-0 trouncing of Bangladesh in the other match on Monday to lead Group A with three points.

Azkals manager Dan Palami said, in an earlier team meeting, that playing in the group stage of the AFC Challenge Cup will determine whether the Azkals will have another tournament to play in next year.

Palami, who was chosen by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) as the 2010 Executive of the Year, added that the matches will also serve as a gauge of whether the team is ready for the World Cup qualifiers in July this year.

The Azkals close out their group stage matches against 174th-place Bangladesh on Friday, March 25.

The top two teams in the each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinals. – JVP, KY, GMA News