MANILA, Philippines – With the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup just around the corner, former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson will finally get a chance to bring the Philippines closer to the dream of becoming a superpower in Southeast Asia.
At 70 years old, the world-renowned Swedish coach – who led England in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups –admitted that this will be his first time to get a taste of Southeast Asian football in his decorated career. (READ: Philippine Azkals dead serious on Suzuki Cup glory)
“I’m very happy to be here [in the Philippines] and I’m sure one of your questions is why am I here? It’s not easy to answer the question, but why not? I’m doing something different which I’ve never done before,” said Eriksson who only had Asian football experience in China.
Despite garnering most of his success in European football, the Swede is not too worried of the transition to the Asian level.
“Football is more or less the same all over the world so if you can do it in Europe, you can do it in Asia as well,” said Eriksson.
Eriksson’s veteran experience will be tested once again to work with his current raw materials that will lead the Philippine national men’s football team to Suzuki cup glory.
“You have to do the best you can with the player you have [in the national team] – the best player you have in the Philippines of course in this case. That’s the big difference [with club footbal] but in other way, it’s the same, we have to work hard, you have to be organized, you have to be part of the group, create a good atmosphere in the group.”
With a new challenge in front him, Eriksson is thrilled to have Azkals senior advisor Scott Cooper by his side who has made his name known in Southeast Asia because of his successful managerial stint in the Thai League.
After the sudden resignation of former head coach Terry Butcher, Cooper was appointed as the Azkals’ interim head coach who led the team in the Bahrain and Qatar training camps .
“I know that Scott is very important in the Philippines and he will be extremely important. I need him. I need him desperately because he knows all the players, he knows all the plans and knows all about Philippine football. And of course he’s important and I’m quite sure that we’ll work very well together,” added Eriksson about his partner whom has worked with in Leicester City FC from 2010-2011.
Eriksson rose to fame after copping 18 trophies with various clubs in Sweden, Portugal and Italy before becoming England’s first foreign national team coach.
In his 5-year tenure as the England manager, Eriksson has handled world football stars like David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.
The Azkals’ Suzuki Cup campaign will begin on Tuesday, November 13, against Singapore in Pana-ad Park and Stadium in Bacolod. – Rappler.com