THE Philippines finds itself against familiar opposition in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup that kicks off in November at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The Azkals have been drawn with defending champion Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia — the three teams that have stood in their way of capturing a coveted finals berth in the last three editions.
The Filipino booters open Group A play against Singapore on November 19, then Indonesia three days later. The Azkals finally face the Thais in a rematch of their semifinal matchup two years ago.
The Thais are the favorites to repeat, being the only Southeast Asian team to reach the final round of the Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
“It’s a very tough group,” Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang insisted after the draw in Yangon. “Singapore have a strong squad. The Philippines are constantly improving and will be on home soil, and Indonesia are coming back and are an unknown quantity.”
Co-host Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the winner of the qualifying tournament in October comprise Group B.
The top two from each group will advance to the home-and-away Final Four from December 3 to 8, before the two-legged finals take place on December 14 and 17.