Azkals not banking on familiarity against China
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine head coach Sven-Göran Eriksson and Azkals striker Javier Patiño may be bringing their Chinese Super League (CSL) experience to the pitch, but the national men's football team isn't about to rely on that advantage against Group C leader China in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
"Today, with all the videos, the scouts traveling around the world, there are no secrets. Everyone knows how players play. We have seen China playing many games, a little advantage, yes," said Eriksson.
The Azkals, he said, are more focused on their physical conditioning and learning from their mistakes in their opening game against South Korea as they face China on Friday, January 11, 9:30 pm (Manila time) at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. (LIVE UPDATES: Philippines vs China – Asian Cup 2019)
Eriksson coached Guangzhou R&F in 2013 and spent a total of 4 years in China managing Shanghai SIPG and China League One team Shenzhen.
As a sidelight, the 70-year-old Swede will face China coach Marcello Lippi, a familiar foe who has copped one World Cup title with Italy and led Guangzhou Evergrande to a three-peat CSL reign.
"I know Lippi very well. I met him outside before coming in, we have faced many times before. But tomorrow, we are not friends," said the Azkals head coach.
"It's nice to see him I know him since the 1980s I don't know how many matches we have played in Italy and China. He's a good coach, a very good coach and I respect him. I wish him all the best for tomorrow."
Patiño also became a key player to CSL team Henan Jianye FC where he scored a total of 23 goals in 60 appearances in his three-year stint with the club.
But the Filipino-Spanish forward suffered injuries towards the end of his tour of duty in China, which led him to move back to Buriram United, his former club in Thailand.
Although Eriksson downplays his knowledge on the current Chinese team, Azkals goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard finds the advice given to him very helpful and looks forward to make the most out of it in the match.
"Of course having a head coach and striker [that have] experience in the Chinese Super League is something [the team will] learn from them about China and its players. Being given advice and using it for our advantage is something we need to do for tomorrow," said Falkesgaard.
After a surprising showing against South Korea, the Azkals look to shock China in a bid to bolster their chances of advancing to the Round of 16. – Rappler.com
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