Hanoi: Philippines central defender Rob Gier believes he and his teammates have earned the respect of football fans across South East Asia off the back of their surprise performance at this year's AFF Suzuki Cup.
The previously unheralded Filipinos stand on the cusp of qualifying for the semi-finals of the first time in the tournament's 14-year history after drawing with Singapore and a win over defending champions Vietnam.
Those results have left Simon McMenemy's team on top of Group B with the final round of group matches to be played on Wednesday.
The Philippines face Myanmar in Nam Dinh knowing a draw will be enough to take them into the last four at the expensive of either Vietnam or Singapore, two nations that have won the last title three AFF titles between them.
"We've had two fantastic results and for all the coaching staff and Filipinos back home, it has made everyone in South East Asia stand up and recognise what we are doing in the Philippines with regards to football," said the former Wimbledon centre half.
"Certain circles have been a little bit disrespectful to us in our preparation and we hope these two results prove how good we are and hopefully we get a bit more of the respect that we deserve now."
Gier's performance against Vietnam epitomized the spirit within the Philippine camp, the 29-year-old climbing off his sickbed – as did team mate Phil Younghusband – to start against the Vietnamese.
The pair put in an immense amount of work as they saw off a series of relentless attacks from the defending champions before prevailing in what was one of the biggest shocks in the tournament's history.
"I don't really know how I got through the game to be honest," said Gier. "Up to kick off I was feeling pretty bad.
"The importance of the game and the adrenaline of a full house of 40,000 people inspired me to get through it. It was a massive team effort.
"Phil Younghusband was pretty sick before the game too and it was a massive collective effort to get through the game. We are both feeling better but still not 100 percent.
"We'll take time to rest our bodies and recover and make sure we are ready for the big game in a couple of days' time. It's difficult for the team at the minute."
While Sunday's win at the My Dinh Stadium was played out in front of a packed stadium backing the home team, the Philippines' attempt to complete one of the most dramatic performances seen in recent years moves to the provincial city of Nam Dinh.
There, in a match that kicks off at the same time as Vietnam's encounter with Singapore, Gier and company face a Myanmar side that has only pride left to play for after their disappointing showing at the year's tournament.
Gier, who is currently playing for English non-league side Ascot United, is fully aware of the significance of the upcoming clash.
"The Myanmar game is a massive game, even bigger than the Vietnam game because if we don't perform against them then all the hard work will have been for nothing," he says.
"We're just making sure we're focused on the task at hand, making sure we get all the injuries sorted out, making sure the tactics are right and, God willing, we'll prevail against Myanmar."
Wednesday, 8 December 2010