THE Philippines knows what it takes to snatch its first-ever AFF Suzuki Cup silverware this year.
After failing to get past the group stage in 2016, the Azkals are confident that their preparation and the entry of Swedish coach Sven Goran Eriksson will set them up for glory in the region’s biggest football championship.
“We are in the final stretch of our preparations for the Suzuki Cup. We have a deeper talent pool right now. There are a lot of positions that are still up for grabs and this is a good problem for us,” said team manager Dan Palami in yesterday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Tapa King Restaurant in Cubao.
The hiring of Eriksson, who handled England in the 2006 World Cup and has also managed the national teams of Mexico and Ivory Coast, will be a big boost for the Azkals especially with his impressive resume.
“There’s a positive vibe with the team,” said Palami in the session presented by San Miguel Beer, Tapa King and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Still, the Philippines will face tough competition in Group B, with reigning champion Thailand, three-time winner Singapore and 2016 finalist Indonesia around, as well as Timor Leste which can pull off a surprise.
“I think all of our matches are must-win. Mas comfortable na ang mga players ngayon,” said Palami.
The Azkals will have two home matches against the Singaporeans on Nov. 13 and the Thais on Nov. 21 at the Pana-ad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.
The away match against Timor Leste will be held on Nov. 17 at the Kuala Lumpur Stadium in Malaysia while the match against Indonesia will be held on Nov. 25 at the cavernous Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.