Dan Palami: It’s about time Azkals win Suzuki Cup

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  • The Philippine national men’s football team is treating the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup as so much more than just a build-up for its participation to the AFC Asian Cup next year.
    The Azkals failed to make it to the semifinals of the Suzuki Cup in 2016, ending a run of three straight semifinal appearances since the fabled Miracle in Hanoi in 2010.
    With former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson calling the shots for the team now, Azkals team manager Dan Palami is upbeat that the Philippines can finally take home the trophy and establish itself as a power in Southeast Asia.
    “For me, this is where it all started for the Azkals,” said Palami of the Suzuki Cup, during an appearance at the PSA Forum on Tuesday. “That’s why the importance of winning the Suzuki Cup is… as important, because it’s about time that we show ourselves as champions of Southeast Asia.”
    “It’s about time,” he stressed.
    Moreover, a good performance in the Suzuki Cup can only bode well for the Azkals when they make their first appearance in the Asian Cup in 2018.
    “They’re complimentary,” said Palami.
    “A good performance in the Suzuki Cup gives us that momentum going to the Asian Cup. So if we do well, then the guys will have more confidence going to the bigger tournament,” he explained.
    The Suzuki Cup runs from November 13 to December 15, with Swedish coach Sven-Göran Eriksson set to call the shots for the Azkals after Palami confirmed his hiring last Saturday.
    The former England manager is set to arrive on November 2, and hold his first practice with the team the next day.
    The Philippines has been grouped with Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Timor-Leste in Group B. They open their campaign against Singapore on November 13 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.
    As they enter the final stretch of preparations, Palami said “a lot of positions are still up for grabs” in the final 23-man line-up.
    “It’s a good problem for us,” he said, noting that they have a “deeper talent pool” this time around.
    After playing Singapore, the Philippines takes on Timor-Leste at the Kuala Lumpur stadium in Malaysia. They return home to Panaad for a November 21 match against Thailand, then face Indonesia at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium on November 25.(abs-cbn news)

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