The Philippine Azkals may be in hibernation since June, but that hasn’t stopped them from moving up to their highest world ranking in history.
Climbing three places from their position last month, the Azkals chalked up another achievement by reaching No. 141 in the latest rankings released by the International Football Federation (Fifa) yesterday.
The improvement came on the strength of impressive results the past few months that included a 1-0 victory over Hong Kong last June—the country’s first win over the former British territory at senior level. The Azkals also posted two wins in the Challenge Cup qualifiers over Cambodia and a higher-ranked Turkmenistan side, 1-0.
The rankings also took into consideration the results of the last four years, which has seen the rise of the team from a perennial whipping squad into a contender at the Southeast Asian level with back-to-back semifinal finishes in the Suzuki Cup.
Only Thailand at No. 137 has a better ranking than the Philippines, which is ahead of other SEA powerhouses Singapore (155), Vietnam (156), Malaysia (162) and Indonesia (169).
“It’s a reflection of how much our national team has improved the past few years,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami, who took the team under his wing in 2010 and has steered it to a string of fine results.
“A lot of the credit has to go to the players for the hard work and sacrifice that they have put in and the support of the Philippine Football Federation and the country’s growing football community.”