Azkals Face Korea Republic in Asian Cup Debut
After months of intense preparation, the Philippine Azkals make their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 debut against tournament favorites Korea Republic in Group C tonight 5:30 PM local time (9:30 PM Philippine time) at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The Azkals look to show their pedigree against Asia’s best, but are faced with tough opponents in Group C with China PR and Kyrgyz Republic also in the mix.
“We know what we are up to. We are not here just to make up the numbers, we are here to show that we are eager to fight to make our mark in Asia, to dream the impossible,” said Team Manager Dan Palami.
“We are of course excited just like most teams are, before you play the opening game of the tournament. We have a team that has never been in this tournament, and it’s good for the whole country, for the players, for the squad, for everyone,” said head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson. “We are not the favorites to win it all but there are always surprises in football.”
However, facing Korea Republic in their first match, is an extremely tall order. Two time Asian Cup winners in 1954 and 1960, the Taeguk Warriors, have been regular participants not only in the Asian Cup, but also in the FIFA World Cup.
“The draw dictated that we will meet Korea Republic, so why not the first game? On paper they are the strongest team in the group, and one of the strongest teams in the tournament,” added Eriksson. We’re not complaining. We will not be afraid playing against them. They are a good team. We will try to know what Korea will do, but we will try to make our own style of play as well.”
The Swede is also banking on support from the Filipino community in Dubai. Last Saturday, the team had a meet and greet with the Filipinos based in the Dubai in the build up for the match.
“There are a lot of Filipinos working here. We want to see them in the stadium,” ended Eriksson.