THE Philippine Azkals hope to avoid Thailand and prefer to be grouped with Malaysia for the Asean Football Federation Cup.
The draw is set on Wednesday in Bangkok, with the Thais and Malaysians in one seeding pot, Indonesia and Vietnam in the second, and Singapore and the Philippines in the third. The fourth pot is for the two qualifiers.
“We are looking forward to a favorable draw,” said Philippine Football Federation marketing and communications head Ebong Joson in Tuesday’s PSA forum at the Shakey’s UN Avenue branch in Manila.
Joson noted that the Philippine squad is more familiar with the Malaysians and thus has a “good chance” against them.
The group stages kick off on November 21 in Malaysia and Thailand.
“While the Azkals were like a thief in the night when they saw action in the event two years ago, now they are closely marked men by everyone else, which is why this is important to us,” Joson said during the session presented by Smart, the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. and Shakey’s.
PFF president Mariano Araneta Jr. and secretary general Rolly Tulay are in Thailand to witness the draw.
For making it to the semifinals two years ago, the Philippines was seeded sixth for this year’s event and need not go through the qualifiers.
Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei and Timor Leste play in the qualifying competition from October 5 to 13 in Myanmar for the two remaining slots in the eight-team group stage.
Joson said the PFF will host a program starting at 4 p.m. at the Azkals Sports Bar at the Fort in Taguig City, where they hope to get a live television feed of the draw from Thailand.