THE Philippines has been bracketed with Turkmenistan, Cambodia, and Brunei in Group E of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifiers in March in 2013.
The qualifying stage will be hosted by the Philippine Football Federation. The schedule—March 2, 4, and 6, however, doesn’t fall on Fifa international match dates, which doesn’t assure the availability of the Azkals’ Filipino-foreigners who are plying their trade overseas.
At first glance, Turkmenistan looks to be the toughest opponent for the Azkals in the group. The Central Asian country, ranked 129th in the world, finished second in the tournament in this year’s edition.
Defending champion North Korea is assured of an outright Finals spot, as well as Maldives, which won the hosting gig of the Final stage set in 2014.
The Azkals emerged as the runners up in one of the qualification groups early this year and went on to finish the tournament in third place.
The tournament stakes a solitary ticket to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, where the continent’s premier teams converge.