Philippines boss Sven-Goran Eriksson says his team “will continue to fight” for qualification at the Asian Cup as they prepare to face Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday.
Eriksson’s men have lost both of their opening two Group C games in the United Arab Emirates, and have yet to score a goal, but with the four best third-placed finishers going through, their hopes remain alive.
Kyrgyzstan are in the same boat, meaning a mouth-watering, winner-takes-all showdown awaits at the Rashid Stadium.
Eriksson said: “There is a possibility and as long as there is a possibility we will continue to fight.
“I am sure that our players we go out and fight, and do everything to try and win the game. I am sure 100 per cent of that.
“We are in the same situation as they are so there’s a struggle. We have a chance but it is going to be a tough game. They have good runners, good strikers.”
Azkals forward Patrick Reichelt added: “It is a chance for us to score against a good team that we have beaten before.
“All we can do is fight, chase the game and get the result that is hopefully enough for us to go through.”
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 11, 2019
Kyrgyzstan boss Alexander Krestinin revealed he and his players had received a message of good luck from the country’s president Sooronbay Jeenbekov.
Krestinin said: “I spoke to the president, and the players also spoke with him.
“It is very important when the president of the country supports the team, and it shows the whole country is united. Our wish is only to make our best performance on Wednesday.”
Krestinin feels his side are well equipped to get a positive result and extend their stay at the tournament.
“This is our third game and this is the decisive one in our group,” he said. “The team is ready and we are looking for victory in this game, we are in good spirits to play against a very good team.
“The emotional and technical sides have been taken into account in preparation. We need to do our job to win the game, but this is football and everything can happen.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kyrgyzstan – Kairat Zhyrgalbek
Zhyrgalbek has been a dominating midfield presence for Kyrgyzstan in their opening two games in the United Arab Emirates. With his side needing goals and a win to go through, Zhyrgalbek may be left exposed and will have to be at his best to prevent the Philippines capitalising on the counter.
Philippines – Phil Younghusband
Having been restricted to substitute appearances in the Philippines’ opening two matches it is surely time for Eriksson to unleash Younghusband. The experienced striker scored the goal that secured the Philippines’ maiden Asian Cup appearance and he may be the man to help them secure an unlikely place in the knockout stages.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first encounter between Kyrgyzstan and Philippines at the Asian Cup.
– Kyrgyzstan have attempted 22 shots overall in their two games at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup so far, but just three of these have been fired on target (one scored).
– After going unbeaten in his first four games in charge of Philippines (W2 D2 L0), Eriksson has now lost five successive international matches as their manager, following their 3-0 defeat to China on MD2.
– Prior to the 2019 Asian Cup, no side playing in their first-ever edition of the tournament has ever lost 100% of their matches – newcomers Philippines and Yemen have each lost their opening two matches in the competition in 2019.
– Kairat Zhyrgalbek made 10 tackles for Kyrgyzstan over the opening two games of the 2019 Asian Cup; three more than any other player in Group C of the tournament.
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