Following an expected 0-3 result in the first leg in Kuwait, it’s crunch time for the Philippine men’s national squad.
Despite that defeat and key losses in the form of Stephan Schrock and team captain Aly Borromeo, the squad sees their chance of making it through to the group stages dwindle in the last 90 minutes.
And to perhaps put a damper on this second leg, the Philippines slid down the FIFA World Rankings by three places from 159 to 162 and Kuwait gained ground with a seven point rise from 102 to 95.
With so many doubters now in tow after the surprise and meteoric rise of this noble squad, head coach Hans Michael Weiß is confident and behind his boys.
“If this was a year or two later, we would be on a different level,” said the German mentor on the competition. “I ask for patience that we have a long way to go.”
Talking about the game on hand, the 46-year old tactician noted that the return of Schrock and skipper Borromeo is a game-changer, specially that Schrock is a shifty midfielder that will spring surprises for the Kuwaiti defense.
Unlike his understudies Jason Sabio and Jason De Jong, he is more aggresive and has a knack for going for the ball.
Weiß also mentioned that so many factors, which included the extremely humid weather and the two missing players, caused the result in Kuwait City.
On the other end of the field, the squad known as Al-Azraq definitely acknowledged that they had a hard time in the first leg of this series last Saturday, although the score did not reflect such difficulty.
Head coach Goran Tefugdzic of Kuwait is confident that his boys could adjust to the extreme weather brought about by the recent passing of Typhoon Juaning, as Kuwait City experiences rainy weather during three months each year.
With the home crowd behind their backs, the Azkals still have a fighting chance at stealing a ticket to the next level of the qualifiers.