Dooley: 'Uzbekistan best team in group, but I’m confident in Azkals'

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Uzbekistan may well be the best team in the Philippines’ group in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, but Azkals coach Thomas Dooley says that he has every bit of confidence in his players ahead of their crucial match.

Despite dropping points against North Korea in their first encounter last June, Dooley still considers Uzbekistan to be the most dangerous team in their group.

“Uzbekistan is the best team in our group, the most difficult team to play against,” said the American coach. “What they do is that they are not outstanding, but they are more experienced.”

The Azkals will meet Uzbekistan on the field on Sept. 8 at the Philippines Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan, a game that Dooley believes will prove to be a real test for his wards.

“It will be a very very difficult game for us, we are totally the underdogs in that game,” he said.

But after six points after two matches in the qualifiers, Dooley says that he has faith that his side will deliver.

“I have confidence in our team, I think that we are on the rise,” said the former U.S. team captain.

Read: Azkals shuffle roster ahead of September fixtures

Chemistry was a legitimate concern for the Azkals after infusing new faces into the roster so soon before their opening qualifying match against Bahrain in the Philippines.

Luke Woodland, Stephan Palla, Iain Ramsay, and Kevin Ingreso all came into the side with less than two weeks to integrate with the rest of the team.

Dooley was clearly pleased with the Azkals’ performance against Bahrain and Yemen, notching 2-1 and 2-0 victories against them, respectively, and said that his players were coming together well.

“In the last two games we could see everyone works for each other,” said Dooley. “Everybody, even on the bench, was fired up and trying to help.”

“You can see the chemistry in the hotel, the positive attitude that the players have being there and all those little things are very important in being successful.”

Read: PFF bares Azkals preliminary roster for Uzbekistan World Cup Qualifier