Manila: The Philippine Azkals are working doubly hard as they try to seek their third win when they face Uzbekistan on September 8 at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan, in the ongoing qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“We need all the support we can get because it’s a tough match,” Azkals team manager Dan Palami said. “We need to work doubly hard to get a result against Uzbekistan.”
Facing the top-ranked team in Group H, the Azkals hope to draw strength from home supporters as they seek their third victory in the competition.
Kickoff is at 8 p.m. on Sept. 8.
Palami said the Azkals’ feat during their last two games was impressive and that they just need to keep up that high level of performance to score an upset against Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, the Philippines is gaining reputation among foreign football fans as a world-class sporting hub because of the ultramodern Philippine Sports Stadium where the Azkals’ home games for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers are being held.
Football fans from countries that will be playing in the stadium will get a chance to view on their TV sets, laptop computers or mobile gadgets the stadium’s state-of-the-art facilities when their teams play with the Philippine Azkals.
“It will be a different viewing experience for fans not only here in the Philippines but also abroad,” Palami said.
The first World Cup qualifier held at the stadium was last June 11 between the Philippine Azkals and Bahrain which the former won, 2-1.
The Philippine Sports Stadium, which is owned by the Iglesia Ni Cristo, is the largest football stadium in the country with a football seating capacity of 20,000.
The stature of the Philippines as a sporting mecca will always get a boost everytime an international football game is played in the stadium, he said.
Fans watching remotely will be viewing a newly-painted stadium with colors that still gleam, a well-lighted playing field within a blue track, and an electronic scoreboard on either end.
For fans watching live at the stadium, they will see facilities and amenities that are new, premises that are spick-and-span, seats with wheelchair access and functioning washrooms.
The football field has a 103 x 68 meters size with a natural grass surface, another plus for the stadium.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley has earlier described the stadium as “beautiful” while Azkals players have only good words for the playing field’s natural grass surface.
“It feels different to play on grass,” said one Azkals player while another declared that “I’m really happy we have this place. Playing on the grass is worlds different.” The Rizal Memorial Football Stadium where the previous Azkals games were held uses artificial grass.