Thailand will be looking to maintain their perfect record, while Philippines will be looking to book their spot in the semi-finals when they face each other in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Friday.
Reigning champions Thailand began their campaign with a 4-2 win over Indonesia and followed it up with a 1-0 win over Singapore, which earned them a place in the last four. Despite this, they will be looking to keep their undefeated streak alive against co-hosts Philippines.
Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang admitted that he would be disappointed if his side were to fail to claim three points as it would dent their confidence going into the semi-finals.
“Although we are through to the next round, tomorrow’s game is important,” he said. “Our goal is three points, same as the last two games. We will change some players since we have a squad of 23 and they are all strong. There are FIFA ranking points up for grabs in this tournament, so we will still be doing our best.”
Kiatisuk also warned that Philippines would be foolish to think that they are the favourites to be the second team from Group A to advance to the semi-finals.
“If you want to come with us to the next round, you have to beat us tomorrow. That goes for Indonesia and Singapore too, they have to win tomorrow to have any chance,” he added.
Philippines, meanwhile, will have to beat the War Elephants in order to confirm their place in the last four. Failure to do so could see Singapore or Indonesia go through ahead of them should one of them triumph when they face each other on Friday.
Philippines coach Thomas Dooley knows the situation his side face and acknowledged that the Azkals will have their sights set on victory.
“This game could be our last game in the tournament, but it is the more important for us because we need to win to get to the next round,” he said. “Every team is different but when you are in the next round already, you are maybe a little tired. There could be a lack of concentration, maybe there could be individual mistakes we could take advantage of.
“The players are ready, they are talking to each other and looking forward to it.”
Dooley also admitted that his side are excited about the prospect of taking on Thailand and are hoping to stun the defending champions by snapping their winning streak.
“These are the games players and coaches look forward to,” he added. “Thailand are a country we look up to as a team. They have a lot of fans supporting them and great youth development; the players coming out are in a position to play at a higher level.
“Our plans for Philippines are to get to the next level and to get there we need to get to the final.”