Preview - Group C: Kyrgyz Republic v Philippines
Dubai: Alexander Krestinin declared his Kyrgyz Republic side mentally equipped to keep their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Round of 16 hopes alive, ahead of their must-win Matchday Three tie against fellow debutants the Philippines.
The two sides enter Wednesday's clash at Rashid Stadium still looking for their first ever points in the competition, but both know a win will provide a realistic chance of reaching the knockout stage as one of the four highest-ranked third-placed teams.
While three points would, for 24 hours at least, keep either side's hopes alive, the consequences of defeat - instant elimination - couldn't be clearer, and Krestinin said his side was focused only on themselves.
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"This is our third game and this is the decisive one in our group," he said. "The team is ready and we are looking for victory in this game, we are in good spirit for this game against a very good team from the Philippines."
"We understand the importance to tomorrow's game, and the emotional and technical sides have been taken into account in preparation.
"It's not 100 per cent that everyone depends on the result of tomorrow's game, but everything is possible. We need to do our job to win the game, but this is football and everything can happen.
"For example, India yesterday were in second place but are now going home with three points. All we need to do is dd our job."
The Akshumkar received support from Al Ain to Bishkek during their first AFC Asian Cup, and Krestinin revealed even the nation's President had lent his support, something he says is indicative of the enthusiasm surrounding the team back home.
"One and half hours ago I spoke to the President Soronbey Jeenbekov, and the players also spoke with him," he said.
"It is very important when the president of the country supports the team, and it shows the whole country is united and in the same boat. Our wish is only to make our best performance tomorrow."
With both teams yet to earn a point in their first appearance at the Finals, history will be made whatever the result, but despite the cutthroat nature of the tie, Krestinin said these are exactly the types of games he wants to be involved in.
"Both teams come to this with zero points, but its not exactly correct to compare our performances. On my side, I believe in my team and we are looking forward to tomorrow's game.," he said.
"For us, this is the beginning in such a big tournament, and every coach and player in our team want more situations and matches like this."
While Krestinin wants more top-level action, his opponents are led by Sven-Göran Eriksson - a man who has experienced some of the biggest occasions in world football.
The Swede, who has guided teams through three FIFA World Cups and countless major club matches, said his team would give their all in the crucial tie.
"As long as it's a possibility, we have to fight for it," he declared.
"I am sure that our players we go out tomorrow and fight, and do everything to try and win the game. I am sure 100 percent of that."
"We know that we have zero points, and of course nobody is happy with that. We think we did rather good against Korea (Republic) and against China. (We were) little bit unlucky with the goals we conceded against China. I think we played better than 0-3, but that's history now.
"We all have to look forward to tomorrow and try to come out with the right spirit. These players, the staff, everybody are helping with that and I'm confident that the players will do 100 percent, will do everything to win the game."
The Philippines enjoy the better of the recent history between the two sides. They won two friendlies against Kyrgyz Republic in 2016, before Eriksson's reign began, but the experienced coach is expecting a close-fought contest.
"I think (Krygyz Republic) did well in both games they played," he said. "They stood up to their opponents.
"Against China they conceded two goals very easily and that changed that game. They had the chance to make a draw against them, they could have won as well, they had good chances.
"So they are in the same situation as we are. It's not going to be an easy game. They believe as we believe, that they have a chance."
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