HISTORY is not on the side of the Philippines when it makes its much-awaited AFC Asian Cup debut against South Korea tomorrow at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
The two sides will face each other for the first time in 39 years.
In their last meeting on March 27, 1980, the Philippines suffered a 0-8 crushing at the hands of South Korea during the Olympics Asian qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
South Korea has a perfect record against the Philippines with seven wins, scoring 35 goals and conceding none.
Both teams are led by foreign coaches, and it will be a meeting between an experienced Swedish tactician in Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is on his second major international tournament with the Azkals, and a battle-tested Portuguese coach in Paolo Bento, who was appointed last August after the Fifa World Cup in Russia.
Although the Koreans have not won the continental title since 1960, the East Asian squad is a perennial contender in the AFC Asian Cup, taking four runner-up and four third-place finishes.
The Philippines, for its part, is making its first appearance in the continent’s biggest football competition.
Eriksson, who has managed various clubs in Sweden, Portugal, Italy and China, as well as national teams like England, Mexico and Ivory Coast, took over the Azkals last October.
In seven matches, the 70-year old Eriksson collected two wins, two draws and three losses and steered the Philippines to its fourth AFF Suzuki Cup semifinals stint last November.