Phnom Penh: The 14th edition of the AFF Championship gets underway on Tuesday as Cambodia and the Philippines clash in Phnom Penh with both nations declaring they’ll play without fear in chasing all three points.

Cambodia will host the clash at their newly built Morodok Techo National Stadium in the capital and will be boosted by the presence of General Manager Keisuke Honda who is flying straight into the country after his media commitments have ended at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Head Coach Ryu Hirose said that Honda’s presence is a positive for his side and that they’re entering the tournament in positive spirits.

“Even though Mr. Honda is not yet here he’s been regularly communicating with the team and we are fully prepared,” said Hirose. 

“We know that we will play nations that are ahead of us in the FIFA rankings but this is the kind of situation that we want to be in to challenge ourselves.

“In training, we’ve used various approaches and tactical ideas, we’re well prepared and our target is to go through from the group stage and bring positive results for Cambodia.”

The Philippines enter the tournament under freshly appointed coach Josep Ferre with a new-look squad that features only four players with more than 14 caps.

Appointed less than two weeks ago, the Spanish coach said he is excited by the opportunity to lead this revamped Azkals side.

“I think we have made a decision to build this squad around a group of young players with some more experienced ones as well and for me this is my first time in charge of a national team so I’m also very excited,” he said.

“The first match in any tournament is always so important and when the balls starts to roll that’s when we have to be ready.

“We know that Cambodia have many dangerous and skilled players, especially in the forward areas, and like them we will be doing everything we can to win in a calm and focussed manner.”