Unable to face Brunei in the qualifying match of the AFC Challenge Cup following its sudden withdrawal from the scheduled game, the Philippine Azkals will now face the Cambodia "Angkor Warriors" at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila Sunday.
The Azkals need to win over the Angkor Warriors to advance in the qualifying matches leading up to the tournament finals in Maldives next year.
A third finisher in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup, the Azkals need to be impressive in their upcoming Maldives qualifying matches in order to advance to the AFC Asian Cup finals in 2015.
The Azkals have been credited for making football the third most popular sports in the Philippines after years of dormancy as basketball and boxing became Filipino's most favorite sports.
Michael Weiss, who has renewed his contract to steer the Azkals in the qualifying matches, said his team will "risk a lot" when they collide with the Angkor Warriors tonight.
“We will not hold back and go full power like never before and we will risk a lot,” said Weiss. “Cambodia is a team that can create a chance but normally if we play one-way football and press them hard, we won’t have problems.”
Weis is behind Azkal's impressive performance in the past two years leading up Azkals bronze medal award in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup.
When 47-year-old German coach joined the Azkals in January 2011 as head coach, football was not a major sports in the country, lagging behind basketball and boxing in terms of popularity.
“When we play in Manila, the stadiums are totally sold out nowadays. The fans are a riot of colour and adore my lads as if they were pop stars. The passion takes your breath away. I get goose bumps every time," Weiss said.
“But our big target is winning the AFC Challenge Cup in 2014, because then we'd qualify for the AFC Asia Cup in Australia the following year. That's realistic, and it would mean we'd be exactly where we want to be," Read more.
The Angkor Warriors did not qualify during the last three years of competition in the AFC Challenge Cup.
Last year, Philippines and Cambodia clash at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh with both teams failing to score.
Prak Sovannara, who is the current coach of the Cambodia national football team. said the Azkals team is difficult to face considering their last performance in the AFC Challenge Cup.
Sovannara is first Cambodian to gain the official "A" license from the Asian Football Federation.
The game which starts at 7:30 p.m. will be televised live on Studio 23.