By Francis Santiago
Despite scoring decisive victories in its test matches against two German sides, the Philippine football team, according to ace striker Phil Younghusband, has yet to reach its full potential.
The Azkals have beaten a Duren selection and a Bonner Under-19 squad on identical 4-1 score lines last week, underscoring their improved attacking force that has become a big revelation in their on-going preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in Duren, Germany.
But Younghusband, who scored three goals in the two friendly matches, said Sunday the team can be more deadlier and sharper in the days to come.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked at all. I think we are far from it. There are tougher opposition out there and I think we can raise our game against better teams,” said Younghusband, whose group – composed of Chieffy Caligdong, Angel Guirado, Jason Sabio, Boogie Margarse, Patrick Hinrichsen and Fil-German Stephan Schrock – bagged 1500 Euros (roughly P94,000) for topping a three-team singing contest of the national anthem.
The Azkals are preparing for their first-round qualifying match against Sri Lanka on June 29 in Colombo and July 3 in Manila.
Two more test matches are lined up for the Azkals, and Younghusband said the training camp is on the right track.
“It’s good we are able to get good results against good quality of opposition and that gives us great confidence going into the Sri Lanka game,” he said. “Winning is a habit so it’s important we keep winning. In international football, you are judge on results.”
“Slowly, everything is working together. We got a good team spirit. But we know it’s still a long way to go,” Schrock said in an e-mail.
“The most important is that we are growing up together. And I’m sure that we’re good enough to beat Sri Lanka.”
Younghusband, who has 13 international goals for the country, said the team has plenty of strikers, a feature he said that gives the team more flexibility in switching plays with nary a trouble.
“Since I’ve been in the team, it’s the strongest offense with a lot of influence from foreign leagues. We have better options going forward now whereas before we had 1 or 2 options. Now we have 5 or 6 and we can mix it up with different styles of play because we have different styles of players,” Younghusband said. Manila Bulletin