The Philippines will go into the Asian Football Federation Suzuki Cup main tournament in Hanoi, Vietnam, next month as the underdog but the team sees it as a rare opportunity to create an impact in the international stage that could eventually boost the sport in the country.
The national booters smashed Timor Leste 5-0 before drawing with Laos and Cambodia to earn one of the two qualifying spots for the eight-nation tournament in the recent qualifying tournament in Laos.
With a month before the tournament starts, the management team led by Dan Palami is leaving no stone unturned in terms of preparing the squad, which is bracketed with defending champion Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar.
"We may not have the strongest team compared to the other squads in Hanoi but we can assure you we will prepare the team the best way we can," Palami said in yesterday’s PSA Forum at the Shakey’s UN Ave.
The coaching staff, led by Simon McMenemy, will leave for Hanoi on Nov. 4 to scout Vietnam and Singapore that will clash in a friendly.
Palami said Indonesia has extended an invitation to play a friendly with the RP booters in Jakarta in Nov. 15.
Striker Phil Younghusband said their performance in the tournament will be crucial as football struggles to gain recognition in the country.
Co-captains Aly Borromeo and Chieffy Caligdong, meanwhile, were optimistic the team can pull off an upset in Hanoi.
AFF Suzuki Cup 2010
December 01-29, 2010
Group A: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos
Group B: Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines (AZKAL)
Philippines-Azkals vs. Cambodia (VIDEO)
Philippines-Azkals vs. Timor Leste (VIDEO)
Philippines-Azkals vs. Laos (VIDEO)