Brutal 2019 Asian Cup bracket for PH Azkals
The Philippines fell to Pot 4 ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup draw on May 4, but Azkals manager Dan Palami is brimming with optimism that the national team can survive the group stage of the tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
Not even its highest-ever ranking of 113 was enough to lift the Azkals to a better position in the draw in Dubai.
Pot 4 includes the six lowest-ranked teams in the tournament in the Philippines, North Korea, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen and Turkmenistan.
“It’s a challenge for us to survive the group stage, but its no different from what we have gone through the past few years,” said Palami. “With the our players and the right coach and preparation, I think we can pull off an upset [in the tournament].”
The Azkals are sure to be bracketed with one of the six top teams in host UAE, Japan, Iran, Australia, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, which are all in Pot 1.
Pot 2 includes Thailand, China, Syria, Uzbekistan, Iraq and Qatar, while Pot 3 has Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Palestine, Oman, India and Vietnam.
The top two teams from each of the six groups along with the four best third place teams will qualify to the knockout stage of the quadrennial tournament.
Palami said they are not in a rush to name a coach yet after Thomas Dooley’s contract expired at the end of March.
Palami remained noncommittal on Dooley’s status, saying his performance is still subject to a review with inputs from Philippine Football Federation officials and players to be considered.
“I think it’s important that we have to be deliberate and careful in picking the right coach for the Asian Cup,” said Palami. “We have to consider not just the credentials, the experience and a degree of familiarity to Asian football, but also someone who can take us to the next level.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.