Azkals hold­ing on to last strand of hope

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By OLMIN LEYBA

On thin ice af­ter ab­sorb­ing a pair of losses to Ko­rea Repub­lic (0-1) and China (0-3), a de­fi­ant Philip­pine Azkals vowed to keep on fight­ing to sal­vage a dream stint in the AFC Asian Cup’s Round-of-16.

“We still have hope, though prob­a­bly small,” Phl coach Sven Go­ran Eriks­son was quoted by Agence France Presse as the Azkals move on and shift their fo­cus to Wed­nes­day’s vi­tal Group C match with fel­low win­less first-timer Kyr­gyz Repub­lic in Dubai.

The Pi­noy boot­ers, who gained ac­claim in their gal­lant stand against the Taeguk War­riors on open­ing night, need to beat Kyr­gyz big to pos­si­bly get a shot at one of the slots in the KO stages that will be awarded to the four best third-placed teams across all groups.

“We will fight un­til the end, we still have a chance to go to the next round,” said de­fender Al­varo Silva.

“Trust that this strug­gle is part of the process and trust that as long as you don’t give up and keep push­ing for­ward, no mat­ter how hope­less things seem, you will make it,” said mid­fielder Pa­trick Re­ichelt.

The Azkals draw con­fi­dence from hav­ing played the Kyr­gyz in two in­ter­na­tional friendlies in 2016, pre­vail­ing on both oc­ca­sions, 2-1 in Bishek and 1-0 in Manila.

“We’re not go­ing home yet and we will see what hap­pens in the last group stage game,” Eriks­son told the AFC web­site.

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