The Suzuki Cup draw may be a week away at the Chaturathit Ballroom of the Golden Tulip Sovereign Hotel in the city of Bangkok, but the Philippines is already giddy about its prospects for the upcoming AFF tourney.
In a press conference honoring Suzuki Philippines, Inc.'s continued commitment to Philippine football, Philippine Football Federation President Mariano "Nonong" Araneta hoped that the country can at least replicate its 2010 feat in Vietnam, adding that they will do everything [they can] to prepare the team.
National team skipper Aly Borromeo expressed confidence that they can do well in the tournament, noting that with the recent additions the team has managed to secure, they are able to utilize a more attacking strategy compared to 2010. They exceeded expectations, according to the Kaya FC defender, in the last Suzuki Cup, and so more is now expected from them, “And we're more than ready. We want to show that we can do it,” he said.
Under then-coach Simon Mcmenemy, the country relied on its defensive tactics all the way to the semifinals of the biennal event, before losing 2-0 on aggregate to Indonesia in the semifinals, sparking the current consciousness of the country with the sport.
Aly added that if he could manipulate the draw, he would go with Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore for the Philippines. He adds that the hard part right now is trying to get the European-based Filipinos to be able to play, which is what Coach Weiss is working on.
Coach Hans Michael Weiss is in Germany to arrange for the availability of our overseas-based players, as the time frame of the tournament (Group Stage in Thailand / Malaysia: November 24 - December 1; Semifinals (home & away format) December 8-13; Finals (home & away format) December 19 & 22) falls outside of the FIFA International Calendar. That does not include the qualifers that are scheduled on October 5-13 in Myanmar, since our semifinal finish has allowed us to bypass that process altogether.
The Philippine Men's Senior National Team is currently on break after their stretch of friendlies last month, but preparations are already being made for the upcoming camp in the United States, as well as the possibiliy of another camp either in the Middle East or Japan. There also is a possibility of a friendly being scheduled against either Indonesia or Vietnam depending on how the draw turns out. Mr. Araneta noted that both countries sent invitations for friendly matches tentatively set on September.
The Azkals have internationals plying their trade in the different tiers of German football pyramid, from the top-flight Bundesliga (Hoffenheim's Stephan Schrock) to the fourth-tier Regionalliga (Ingolstadt II's Manny Ott). In addition, the PFF has drafted a letter outlining the upcoming schedule of our national team to Premiership side Fulham FC to see if the Cottagers will make goalkeeper Neil Etheridge available for callup. As for Denmark-based Jerry Lucena, the PFF is hoping that the quirk with their schedule (winter break in the Danish Superliga begins on December 10) would free him up to play in the latter stages of the tournament.
As for Suzuki Philippines, the executives present, led by its president, Satoshi Uchida, have expressed their pride in their involvement with the event, adding that they "hope to inspire more and more able and athletic Filipinos to take up the sport and be like our national team, who showed to the world what the Filipino determination, hard work, passion and discipline can do.”
Also gracing the event is Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richie Garcia, who reiterated their full support and cooperation. He stated that the PSC and the PFF are about to sign a Memorandum of Agreement that would pave the way for the start of Rizal Memorial Stadium's renovation, including the conversion of the pitch from grass to turf. According to the PFF, it is hoped that the field conversion would be completed by around the end of October of this year.