HANOI – The Philippine men’s football team may be breathing easier, but the work is far from over for the Azkals in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
After the Filipino booters clinched the first semifinal berth in the Southeast Asian championship, it remains to be seen where they will finish at the end of the group stage and which opponent they face in the next round.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley is dead focused on the task at hand, which is Vietnam on Friday at the My Dinh National Stadium.
“I don’t want to waste my time on (looking at the other group),” the German-American mentor said on Thursday. “As much as possible, I’m looking at Vietnam and getting into first place. If that’s done, day after tomorrow, we know who we play against and we get the information about them.”
For now, here are the group standings and the scenarios that could happen.
Group A W D L GOALS GOALS AGAINST GOAL DIFFERENCE POINTS
Philippines 2 0 0 8 1 7 6
Vietnam 1 1 0 5 2 3 4
Indonesia 0 1 1 2 6 -4 1
Laos 0 0 2 1 7 -6 0
Group B W D L GOALS GOALS AGAINST GOAL DIFFERENCE POINTS
Thailand 2 0 0 5 3 2 6
Singapore 1 0 1 5 4 1 3
Malaysia 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1
Myanmar 0 1 1 2 4 -2 1
If the Azkals beat or settle for a draw against Vietnam:
The Filipinos will top the group and face the second-placed squad in Group B, which is still being disputed by all the four team. Singapore, the team that denied the Philippines a Finals berth in the last edition, currently is running second in Group B.
In such scenario, the Azkals will play the first leg of the semis away on December 7, then play the second leg at home on the 11th.
If the Azkals lose to Vietnam:
The Filipinos will finish second in Group A and arrange a meeting with the first-ranked team in the other group, which is currently held by powerhouse Thailand, which dealt the Philippines a 3-0 beating in its penultimate friendly before the Suzuki Cup.
In that case, the Azkals will play at home first on December 6, before playing the second leg of the two-legged series on the 10th.
Wherever they end up, the Azkals will face a former tormentor in the next round.
The scenarios in Group B are more complex with all the teams, including Malaysia and Myanmar, another thorn on the side of the Azkals, still in contention.