Azkals’ Amani Aguinaldo upbeat on Suzuki Cup bid

Azkals’ Amani Aguinaldo upbeat on Suzuki Cup bid

Azkals' Amani Aguinaldo upbeat on Suzuki Cup bid

MANILA, Philippines – When the Philippine men’s football team takes the Kallang National Stadium pitch this Wednesday to face Singapore in the 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup, one of the players who will be leading the Azkals is Amani Aguinaldo.

Although only 26 years old, the six-foot-tall centerback has tons of experience both domestically and overseas.

Since he was first scouted playing for Ateneo de Davao, Amani has been earmarked as a top player not only because of his height, but also for his strength and game intelligence. He has moved up from Ateneo de Davao to Far Eastern University to the University of the Philippines then to top clubs first in the United Football League and then the Philippines Football League.

“I’ve always wanted to get better; get as much experience with the people I work with,” said Aguinaldo on the eve of the Singapore clash. “Now I have worked with more people and I have gained more experience.”

Aguinaldo’s domestic game and national team were the player’s passport to international football as Aguinaldo has spent the last three years of his professional career. He got his baptism of fire in international football first in Malaysia with Perak in the Malaysian Premier League, after which he moved to Thailand where he joined Trat FC in the Thai League 2 before moving up to Nongbua Pitchaya in the top flight division where he is a teammate of current Azkals midfielder Iain Ramsay.

And soon, he’ll be up against those who he regularly goes up against in the Thai league when the Philippines and Thailand meet on Saturday, December 11.

“Thailand is a special game but right now, we’re focused on our first game (against Singapore) because it will dictate what we do in this tournament,” pointed out Amani.

The Philippines will take on hosts, Singapore, which notched their first win of the tournament — a 3-nil hiding of Myanmar.

“They (the Singaporeans) are good at counter attacking and finishing. We intend to keep high pressure on them so they won’t be comfortable.”

Regarding the tournament and football in the region, Amani noted the growth of the game, “The level of competition here in Southeast Asia is pretty high. Everyone keeps improving and the competition is better.”

His own Azkals side, though missing a bunch of key players, is still no slouch.

“Our morale is high. We’re always positive and always looking to win a game especially in this group stage. We know we can compete against them.”

The matches of the Azkals and the games of the 2021 AFF Suzuki Cup can be viewed by Filipino fans on Premier Football on Skycable and Cignal as well as the Tap Go streaming application.

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