Suzuki Cup: Azkals call on Filipinos to bring the bark
MANILA, Philippines — Facing the top dogs at the AFF Suzuki Cup and a brutal schedule that leaves no margin for error, the Azkals will need a very loud, very engaged hometown crowd to get them going.
The men’s national football team will begin a steep climb to the mountaintop when it goes up against four-time champion Singapore at the Philippine Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan on Saturday.
The Philippines is hosting the Cup for the first time, so the presence of the local crowd at the arenas should be a given.
For midfielder James Younghusband, it doesn’t hurt to get the word out there.
“We really hope that we get as many people as we can. Filling up the stadium, it will make a big difference having a lot of people supporting,” Younghusband said in an interview with FOX Sports Asia.
“When you hear the crowd erupt that gives you more extra percentage to make every inch. We really hope we get great support in the stadium and they become the 12th man.”
Younghusband said the team has been working on its chemistry for sometime now and it’s paying dividends.
“Spending a lot of time together off the field, the team’s really close,” he said.
“We have a good bond, it’s good the way we defended in the game, how we get the clean sheet and everyone was willing to work together.”
That cohesion will go through an acid test in a group stage that includes four-time winners Singapore and Thailand, and perennial underachiever and equally hungry Indonesia.
It shouldn’t be difficult to sell out the Philippine venues, which have a considerably smaller seating capacity.
The Philippine Arena can sit 20,000 people, while the Rizal Stadium in Manila can take up to 12,000 people.
Myanmar, the Suzuki Cup co-host, boasts of two football stadiums that can accommodate up to 30,000 spectators.
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