The Philippines Azkals’ national men’s football team will have a light assignment in the 2020 edition of the AFF Championship, or AFF Suzuki Cup.
The Azkals, coached by Scott Cooper, have been picked to play in Group A, away from 2018 finalists Vietnam and Malaysia.
Team manager Dan Palami said the best players will be made available to the team, which will once again try to go as far as it can in this regional event.
Now seeking their fourth straight semifinals appearance in the biennial meet, Team Philippines will be in the company of Thailand, Myanmar and Singapore.
And they will be joined by the winner of the qualifying round match between Brunei and Timor-Leste.
“The draw doesn’t really matter as we still need to beat the best teams to win the Suzuki Cup. Hopefully, we get the best players available even though the tournament is outside the Fifa international window,” said Palami in a statement.
The Philippines will try to make it as far as the semis again as they have done in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018.
Cooper said the position that the Philippines got in the draw reminds him of what happened in 2018.
“I think as far as the draw goes, it’s an interesting one. I never want to say I’m pleased with the draw, but I’m not disappointed with the draw. I think we take it how it is and ironically the last time we played in the Suzuki Cup, we had Singapore, Timor-Leste, who could be there, and Thailand with the only difference is Indonesia, which is in the other group. It’s almost like a replay of 2018,” said Cooper.
The position of the Azkals and other participating squads were made known following a virtual draw of lots on Tuesday in Kuala Lumpur.
Vietnam, which won its second crown last year with a 1-0 win over Malaysia, is bunched with the Malaysians in Group.
The Vietnamese and Malaysia will be joined by Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.
The tournament will take place from December 5, 2021 to January 1, 2022, with organizers still yet to decide on the host country.
The draw for the 2020 AFF Championship was originally set on August 10, 2021 in Singapore.
But because of enhanced COVID-19 restrictions in the country, the draw was postponed.
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