Kathmandu: Turkmenistan coach Yazguly Hojageldiyev reiterated the importance of a place at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup that victory in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup will bring as he prepares his side for Friday's semi-final with the Philippines.
Turkmenistan, who missed a place at the last AFC Asian Cup after losing in the final of 2010 Challenge Cup to DPR Korea, advanced to the last four by topping Group A courtesy of 2-0 victories over hosts Nepal and a goalless draw with fellow semi-finalists Palestine.
And now Hojageldiyev (pictured) is targeting a victory over the tournament's surprise package as they continue their quest for AFC Challenge Cup glory and a coveted berth in the continent's premier competition.
"We respect the Philippines and are ready to play any team," he said at the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
"Winning this tournament will also get us a ticket for the Asian Cup and we are playing to win."
Standing in their way is a Philippines side brimming with confidence having reached the semi-finals for the first time in their history and having already accounted for Tajikistan, Azkals head coach Michael Weiss feels his side are well prepared to deal with their Central Asian neighbours.
"Turkmenistan is similar to the 'Russian style' like Tajikistan and the match against Tajikistan was ideal preparation for tomorrow's game," Weiss said in reference to their impressive 2-1 win over the 2008 Challenge Cup champions in their final Group B fixture.
"We have had some intense group stage matches while Turkmenistan's has been relatively easier against the likes of the Maldives and Nepal.
"The first game we played was against the tournament favourites and it was only 2-0 and in the next match we defeated India 2-0 even though our performance was not at a level we expect. Our third match was much better than before and we defeated Tajikistan which nobody expected.
"We are very happy to be in the semi-finals and it is something that at the start of the tournament many people thought would not be possible."