Group A reaches the midway point as the Philippines and Timor-Leste kick things off at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Having lost their opening match against Singapore, coach Stewart Hall knows now that wins are needed if the team wants to meet their ambition of reaching the semi-finals.

“We need to win the three remaining games, it’s that simple, two wins and a draw may be enough but you can’t rely on that and that’s what we’ve talked about.”


Hall also confirmed that the team is hoping to soon receive some reinforcements with players set to join the squad from both the Philippines and Australia whilst stressing that the Azkals can’t underestimate the challenge posed by Timor-Leste.

“Timor-Leste are improving and one thing is that they don’t lie down and surrender so you have to work hard against them and you’ll see some changes from us, we’ll go with one extra striker and look to get some more firepower.”

Timor-Leste, meanwhile, are looking to build on two solid performances despite having lost both of their opening encounters against Thailand and Myanmar.


Their relentlessly positive coach, Fabio Maciel, is pounding home a message that he wants his players to keep giving their all at the tournament whilst also sending out a strong signal to club scouts in the region that they shouldn’t overlook the talents on the national team.

“Between the games we can just focus on recovery but for sure we cannot accept defeat and even if a match is a draw or a loss we can’t have the players leaving the pitch thinking that they could have done more so I keep encouraging the team not to be worried about making mistakes.

“I also have to say that we have some fantastic players in our team that should be playing at a high level in Asia, for example in Thailand or Malaysia.

“You look at Paulo Gali, there is not another player in this group who has his quality in terms of dribbling, you look at Jhon Firth in midfield, he is an amazing player with great passing, and then we have Mouzinho who reminds me of Philippe Coutinho at Barcelona, we have so many great talents in this team.”