Azkals to face tough Vietnam, Thailand in Suzuki Cup
MANILA, Philippines - The Azkals will be facing Vietnam, host Thailand and the top qualifier in the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012.
The men's Philippine football team was drawn into Group A, Wednesday, July 11 in Bangkok, while Group B consists of co-host Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and the number two qualifier.
The tournament will be held in Malaysia and Thailand in November, and was the same tournament in 2010 where the Azkals first gained wide popularity and fans' support after an impressive and dominant performance that catapulted them to the semifinals.
Rematch and revenge
The Azkals find themselves in a tough group.
Both Thailand and Vietnam are top contenders, while the winning team from the qualifying stage will provide further challenge to the Philippines.
Vietnam will be looking to exact revenge on the Philippines as well, after the Azkals pulled off the biggest upset in the 2010 tournament, defeating the then defending champs 2-0 in the group stage. The loss put the Azkals atop of Group B.
"Opponents will no longer take us lightly that's why preparations will be doubly hard," said Azkals team manager Dan Palami. "We're not coming in as a surprise team anymore. We're coming in as one of the favorites."
Palami also promised he would do what he could to make sure schedules are sorted out and the best Azkals players will be able to represent the country in the upcoming tournament.
"We will do everything we can to be well prepared," he said.
The Philippines will first face Thailand on Saturday, November 24; Vietnam on Tuesday, November 27; and the qualifier winner on Friday, November 30 in Thailand.
The top two teams from each group will then advance to the semi-finals.- Rappler.com
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