MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines takes on Thailand on Tuesday in Match Day Four of the 2021 Suzuki Cup (the match will be shown on Premier Football on Skycable and Cignal as well as the Tap Go streaming application).
It is a match where if you want to put it bluntly or simply it has implications in advancing to the next round or not.
Since the 2012 Suzuki Cup, Thailand and the Philippines have tussled five times, with the former coming away with three wins and two draws.
In those five matches, the Philippines has scored twice — one by Chieffy Caligdong in 2012 and the second by Jovin Bedic in 2018.
This sixth meeting since then carries huge weight.
Thailand is on top of Group A with a 2-0 record — the same as Singapore but by virtue of a superior goal difference, is ahead, 6-4.
The Philippines, having succumbed to an opening day loss to Singapore, needs to win if they want to stay alive in the competition. A draw is still good but advancing is predicated on blowing out Myanmar and Thailand losing to Singapore.
But when you put your fate at the hands of others, that’s even more difficult.
Here are some questions that will be answered by the time the match is over.
What does Thailand have going for them against the Philippines?
Belief. That counts for a lot. They believe they are superior (although they know the Azkals have been getting better and tougher to beat) and can win.
They have a tall team with Manuel Bihr, their Thai-German, handling central back duties at 6’1”. Their backline averages 5’10”. Dangda stands 5’11”. And more to this, expect them to play physical as they always have. No doubt, they saw how Singapore played the Azkals. They took down notes for sure.
The Thais play with a lot of discipline and a keen understanding of the game.
The Philippines also has the same. It boils down to experience and desire.
What can the Philippines do to take a point or three from the Thais?
I think they need to come out and play more aggressively. Am not sure sitting back and trying to hit Thailand on the counter helps. While doing so, they need to move up that ball quickly instead of dribbling too much.
Bienve Maranon or Angel Guirado need to be credible threats up front while helping out on defense. By doing so, that will affect the way Thailand defends. If not, they can commit more [players in the counter-attack or their regular offense.
If there are multiple attack threats for the Azkals — and if Stephan Schrock can find himself by the edge of the box — they can wreak havoc on Thailand.
If Schrock or even Patrick Reichelt can get going offensively and create for teammates, they can open up that field.
We also need to defend with all hands on deck. Teerasil Dangda and Supachok Sarachat have two goals each to their name. Every time the Philippines has played the War Elephants in the last several years, they have had different players stepping up to score. So even if you stop Dangda, the Azkals’ defense has to be mindful of others.
We simply cannot allow the Thais to dictate the game because even if we park the bus, the pressure they will bring more oft than not finds success. Amani Aguinaldo has to lead that line alongside Martin Steuble and Daisuke Sato.
If Kevin Ingreso and Amin Nazari can provide more help on defense in the middle of the park, it will ease the pressure on the back four and allow the Philippines to go on quick counters.
Imagine if the Philippines scores first. Their confidence will soar.
This match will be huge for the Philippines in more ways than one.