The Philippine National men’s football team or the Azkals are set to compete in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers this month once more.
The Azkals continued their quest for a slot in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 to be held in United Arab Emirates in battling Tajikistan on March 27, 2018, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM
“We announce that the AFC has approved the PFF’s request to move the final match of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers back to Manila,” said PFF president Mariano V. Araneta Jr via the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) website. “This match will be a crucial match as it will decide the Philippine Men’s National Team’s chances of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup.”
The PFF earlier planned to hold the fixture at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City but due to other reasons, the match will be held in Manila.
The Philippines is currently on top of the Group F with nine points while Tajikistan is currently third with seven points. A draw against Tajikistan will be enough for the Azkals to qualify for the Asian Cup.
The Azkals earlier in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, already defeated Tajikistan 4-3 last June 14 at Respublikanskiy Stadion in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
“We hope all football stakeholders and supporters rally behind the Men’s National Team,” added Araneta via PFF website. “Qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will be a historic moment in Philippine football.”
The Azkals ended their AFC Asian Cup campaign in a blank note last year after tangling against Nepal in a goalless draw at ANFA Complex, Kathmandu last November 14, 2017.The Azkals also suffered a 2-2 draw against Yemen in Saoud Bin Abdulrahman stadium in Al-Wakra in Qatar last October 11, 2017.
To say at least, the Azkals tallied a two-win, two-draw card after they defeated Nepal 4-1 last March 28, 2017, at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in their AFC Asian Cup opening game.
Tickets are now available in SM Tickets with prices ranging from P100-P300, according to PFF website.
In connection with the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match, the Azkals and Fiji will tangle with an International Friendly, the PFF announced.
The friendly between both squads will be held on March 22, 2018, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Kickoff will be at 7:30 PM.
This the second time the Azkals will be at the friendly against Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) after having a friendly against Papua New Guinea in 2014, where the Azkals destroyed their opponent 5-0.
The tickets are priced from P50 to P 200 and now also available in SM Tickets, also according to PFF website.
Still, the Azkals cannot take this International friendly lightly as they need this game for preparation against Tajikistan and avoid a pair of embarrassments they got in the hands of Chinese Taipei and Timor Leste, where the team mostly of collegiate players with Younghusband backstopping them, participated in the Chinese Taipei Football Association International Tournament in Taiwan last December.
With a pair of draws in AFC Asian Cup qualifiers and defeats against Chinese Taipei and lowly-rank Timor Leste in the Chinese Taipei Football Association sanctioned tournament, the Azkals dropped to 124th in the world and 22nd in Asia, according to the latest FIFA rankings released last January.
It was far from the 116th the Azkals achieved- the second highest in the team history last October. The Azkals had a chance to improve its ranking in facing Tajikistan this month since their opponent is two spots below the Philippines, according to the latest FIFA rankings.
Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley is still not announcing as of now his line up for the International Friendly against Fiji and AFC 2019 Asian Cup Qualifiers against Tajikistan.