THE past couple of weeks has seen decent performances from the Azkals. First was from the B Team in the Bangabandhu Cup that took them to the semifinals, and more recently, from the A Team that eked out a 1-1 draw against much higher ranked Oman.
Too bad, none of those exciting matches were shown on live TV, leaving fans with no choice but to follow live streams or replays online.
It’s also unclear if the Azkals’ upcoming matches in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup would be broadcast here as well. But TV is a business after all, and let’s just hope that one of the stations sees the light of day that the Suzuki Cup is not just any tournament.
Described as a “cornerstone event” of Southeast Asia, the AFF Suzuki Cup is watched by tens of millions of fans in a region with more than half a billion people. Such is the growing importance of the biennial Suzuki Cup that FIFA started awarding international ranking points to the matches starting in the 2016 edition.
As I’ve written in the previous column, the Azkals will host Singapore at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City on Nov. 13 under a new format (the two groups in the Suzuki Cup will have five teams each, with every team playing two home and two away matches in the group stage).
As always, the Panaad crowd will be fantastic, and the stadium will live up to its reputation as having the best atmosphere in the country. So if you have the chance, go and watch the game. And while you’re at it, make plans for what could be an epic match against defending champions Thailand on Nov. 21, still in Panaad.
Since they’ve been drawn in the Group of Death, the Azkals need all the support they can get. The best way to show support is being bodily present in Panaad during these big matches. If not, at least we can make noise especially on social media.
The first match against Singapore is crucial, and beating the Lions won’t be easy. The Philippines has neither won nor scored a goal against Singapore in their last three encounters since 2012, all Suzuki Cup matches. Two of those ended in draws and a loss.
In the two-leg semifinal of the 2012 Suzuki Cup, the Azkals drew the first leg at home but lost 1-0 away in the return leg in Singapore. Their last meeting ended in a draw in the group stage of the 2016 Suzuki Cup, wherein the Azkals failed to advance as tournament hosts.
Against Thailand, the Azkals have fared worse, having scored only once in five matches. The Azkals lost 1-2 in a group stage match in the 2012 Suzuki Cup, and 0-3 in a friendly a month before the 2014 edition. During the tournament semifinal, the Azkals drew Thailand 0-0 in Manila, but were clobbered 0-3 in the return leg in Bangkok. Then to cap what perhaps ranks as its worst Suzuki Cup appearance in recent memory, the Azkals lost 0-1 to Thailand in Manila, sealing their early exit in the tournament as group stage hosts.
October 18, 2018
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