Azkals' Phil Younghusband a marked man against Uzbekistan (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

For years, Phil Younghusband has been one of the Philippine men’s football team’s best player.

And on the eve of the Philippines duel with Uzbekistan, coach Samvel Babayan is well aware of the Azkals captain’s play.

If we can neutralize the captain, then we can build our game, he said.

Azkals coach Thomas Dooley, meanwhile, isn’t surprised that the Uzbeks will be giving Younghusband some special attention during their match on Tuesday.

Everybody knows that Phil is one of the best players we have here in the Philippines. It’s something that when you’re in that kind of level, it’s difficult to eliminate that player, he said.

But the American coach said Uzbekistan’s defensive game plan is no different from his strategy.

It’s the same in their team. They have players that we have to watch out and we have to watch out for all of them.

Dooley rattled off the jersey numbers of defenders Islom Tukhtakodjaev and Anzur Ismailov, forward Alexander Geynrikh, and midfielder Server Djeparov as the players that the Azkals have to keep tabs on.

But he said that the whole Uzbekistan team should not be taken lightly.

There’s so many players on that team you need to take care of. But this is the game that you’re waiting for, he said. We play against a team which is very experienced, very good. They are 50 spots above us, but everything happens for a reason.

The Philippines aims for a share of the top spot in Group H at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.