Thailand won't be taking things easy despite clinching qualification
Thailand head coach Kiatisuk 'Zico' Senamuang warned that he will not be taking the final Group A game against the Philippines easily even though they have secured their status as group winners.
That will not come as good news for hosts the Philippines, who need all three points against a team they have never defeated in order to finish second in the group.
Currently, they have two points from two games, while both Singapore and Indonesia, who face each other in the other Group A match, have one point.
All three teams are still in contention to advance into the knock-out rounds.
Should Philippines not take maximum points, a win from either Singapore or Indonesia will see them drop down in the table and miss out on the knock-out rounds.
"Although we are through to the next round, tomorrow's game is important," Zico 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."
Zico also cautioned that the Philippines can ill-afford to think that they are still the favourites to go through among all three teams.
"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 said.
In response, Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley says that no matter which team Thailand sends out, his charges will be focused on the task at hand - which is to get the 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," Dooley 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 added that the match against regional powerhouse Thailand will be a good way to test their mettle as well.
"These are the games players and coaches look forward to. 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," Dooley stated.
"Our plans for Philippines are to get to the next level and to get there we need to get to the final."