MANILA, Philippines – After steering the Philippine Azkals to a brilliant start in the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, new coach Sven-Göran Eriksson said he already gained a better understanding of the team.
“I have much more knowledge today than I had one week ago. I’ve been working to see them play today,” Eriksson, a renowned former World Cup coach, said after the national men’s football team defeated Singapore for the first time in tournament history on Tuesday, November 13.
The last time the Azkals notched a victory over the Lions was in 2012 during a FIFA international friendly in Cebu.
The Nationals, however, opened their Suzuki cup campaign with a sloppy start over the Red and White, who were riding on the momentum of their win over Indonesia.
It was only in the 78th minute when the Philippines broke the deadlock, thanks to Patrick Reichelt who went one-on-one with Lion goalie Sunny Hassan and fired it into the back of the net to nail the 1-0 victory.
If the Filipino-German winger did not score, then an away draw for Singapore would’ve put the visiting team on top of the table with 4 points.
Moving forward, Eriksson already has some changes in mind after witnessing the turnout of the game.
“My expectations from my time here is to play the ball a little bit better than today. There were a lot of long balls out there. That’s good sometimes, but try to improve that and of course go to the semifinal,” siad Eriksson.
The 70-year-old Swedish coach and the rest of the Azkals staff will continue to evaluate the players especially on the fitness side before deciding if a starting XI lineup change should be made against Timor Leste on Saturday, November 17.
The Azkals will be missing key central defenders in the Final 23 lineup.
In Tuesday’s game, Luke Woodland was rushed to the emergency room after a hard tackle, and Alvaro Silva was unavailable for the match according to Eriksson.
The Nationals are now in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and are looking to climb to the top of the table with a win over Timor Leste. Kickoff is at 8 pm. – Rappler.com