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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, September 5, 2017
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Azkals take on travel-weary Yemen

Philippine Men's National Football team head coach Tom Dooley once again stressed the need for the Azkals to play as one team against Yemen in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers at the Pana-ad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City, 7:30 tonight.

At a press conference yesterday, coach Dooley emphasized that it is not only the players and the coaching staff and the management that compose the “team” but also the fans and the media, whose support strengthen the team.

He said everybody should be a team player, otherwise, it will not work.

And a team, one that has to get past long hours of travelling, train and develop its strategy even without a national league, is what the Azkals will face tonight as Yemen endured all these and still emerged No. 2 in their group.

“We travelled a long way, face all these problems and we will do our best to get that three points,” Yemen head coach Abrham Mebratu said.

With the absence of the national league, he said they have a selection of players who they train and keep in shape to be competitive for the international matches.

Yemen won their first match in Group F against Tajikistan in March, 2-1, and while it was supposedly a home game, they had to play in Doha, Qatar. The second match against Nepal in June ended in a goalless draw and as coach Mebratu said, the Yemen players played while fasting as it was Ramadan.

While he considers the Philippines as the strongest team in the group, Mebratu said the 1-0 victory against the Azkals in November 2015 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila give the Yemen players the confidence that they can beat them at home.

The Azkals, on the other hand, will have the support tonight of the football-loving Negrenses who had diligently followed the team's emergence from obscurity eight years to carve a name in Asian football.

“This is an opportunity to created football history and we will do our best to win,” Azkals captain and the country's favorite striker Phil Younghusband said.

He said representing the country is an honor and everyone in the team is excited to once again to play in Bacolod City. *NAB



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