Azkals out to reverse Thai hoodoo
The Philippines will be looking to overturn a 14-match losing streak to Thailand when the two teams meet in the first leg of their AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manilla on Saturday evening.
The War Elephants have had the upper hand in this fixture and have won all of their games in a run that dates back to 1972 and are the tournament's hot favourites after a flawless Group B campaign.
The two sides last met in November for a pre-tournament friendly in Korat, which the Thais won 3-0.
Despite having the odds stacked against them, Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley is relishing the chance to end Thailand's hold on the Philippines, who are in their third consecutive Suzuki Cup semi-finals, as well as the opportunity to guide his side to their first ever final.
The former United States captain said: "These are the kind of big games we want to play.
"The players are confident ahead of the game as there has been something in the air for years that we have to correct.
"I can promise that every man on the field will do their best to correct that."
While morale in the Thai camp is high, assistant coach Choktawee Promat knows that the Philippines have shed their tag as the region's whipping boys and have transformed themselves into a force to be reckoned with.
He said: "We are confident but must be careful. We hope that this game is very strong for us as the Philippines have many good players.
"We have been working very hard in training. All our players must concentrate.
"When we played them in Korat we were very surprised as the Philippines have changed their players and they were very good.”
Source: AFF Suzuki Cup official website