MANILA (3 Nov 3018) – Last March the Philippines national team – also known as the Azkals – wrote football history with a 2-1 win over Tajikistan at home and with that came a historic place in next year’s AFC Asian Cup Finals.
Now a new wave of football has hit the Azkals when world-renowned Sven Goran Eriksson was named as the new head coach last week – giving the Philippines football a shot in the arm for their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign.
The much-traveled Eriksson – a household name in the world of football – will be assisted by Scott Cooper and the Philippines, after a disappointing campaign in the last edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup, will come under much scrutiny.
The Philippines reached the semi-finals in 2010, 2012 and 2014 but failed to go beyond the group stage in 2016 after managing only a third place in their group.
This year the Azkals are drawn in a tough Group B which includes defending champions and five-time winners Thailand, four-time winners Singapore, Indonesia, and Timor Leste.
The Philippines will only go into action on 13 Nov when they play Singapore at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
There is much focus on Eriksson and it is a different landscape for Azkals’ football with several of their players playing for well-known clubs in Europe and also in South America, carrying their challenge in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
The Younghusband brothers Phil and James, Iain Ramsay and Javier Patino are just some of the more familiar names in the Philippines squad.
Eriksson coached England to the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals. The Swede also had stints with leading clubs in Sweden, Portugal, Italy, and China
Scott Cooper will be assisting him. Their partnership is not new, having worked together during their stint with Leicester City in 2010-2011.
Can the Philippines do it this year by finally lifting the AFF Suzuki Cup? Be prepared for some surprises from the team under Eriksson.