Philippines and Singapore will both be determined to emerge victorious when they go up against each other in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Saturday night.
Co-hosts Philippines have never won the tournament before, but they have reached the semi-finals in the last three editions of the competition.
This time, though, they will be aiming to go one step further, but they will first have to get past the group stage, starting with a clash against Singapore.
Philippines coach Thomas Dooley is excited about his side’s prospects going into the tournament, but he is eager to see the Azkals get their campaign off on the right foot.
“We are very excited for the biggest tournament of the year, hopefully we have some nice weeks in front of us,” he said. “We want to be successful and make the people of the Philippines happy. To do that we need to win some games.
“In football anything can happen. You need everything to fall into place like a puzzle. The players need to be fit, healthy, sleep well, eat right and take it seriously, then you have a chance.
“We’ve got to win games. We are not thinking about the trophy yet. Thailand are a good team, we have never won against them, we hope to show progression this year.”
Unlike Philippines, Singapore know what it takes to win the AFF Suzuki Cup as they have accomplished the feat four times.
Going into their match against the Philippines, the Lions will have their sights set on winning the competition for a record-breaking fifth time, while they will also be aiming to make up for their disappointing showing in 2014, where they failed to make it out of the group stage as they won just one of the three matches they played.
“A football game is 90 minutes, it is about how we approach the game. We can press high or park the bus, we’ll see tomorrow,” Singapore coach V. Sundramoorthy said. “Obviously every game has a favourite and underdog. It’s good that we are underdogs because there is more pressure on the favourites. Anything can happen.”