Hiring of Eriksson proves Azkals have bold ambitions
The Philippine Azkals are making no secret of their ambitions to create an impact in their historic AFC Asian Cup appearance in January.
Swedish mentor Sven Goran Eriksson, who coached the likes of English legends David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the 2006 World Cup, will headline the Azkals’ brain trust as they tackle their biggest challenges in the next two months.
In the 70-year-old Eriksson, the Azkals have a coach with experience at the highest level, particularly in the World Cup and European Championships.
“When we were looking at candidates, I’ve always been a dreamer so why not go for that (hiring Eriksson) and I was able to sell to Sven the dream of Philippine football,” Azkals manager Dan Palami said.
The deal with Eriksson has been in the works for the past few weeks with the Swedish coach even showing up during the Azkals’ camp in Doha, Qatar, early this month.
It wasn’t until last Friday when the agreement with Eriksson was finalized, paving the way for Palami’s announcement during the Manila leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup trophy tour last Saturday.
The Suzuki Cup will be Eriksson’s first assignment as the Azkals try to survive a tough group that includes Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Indonesia.
It will be in the Asian Cup where Eriksson’s worth will be tested as the Azkals go up against continental giants.
Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband welcomed Eriksson’s entry, saying it can only be good for the team.
“This is a manager I grew up watching handling the likes of Beckham, Gerrard and Lampard and Paul Scholes,” Younghusband told the Inquirer. “I was exposed to him back in England. If someone had told me 12 years ago that he’d be my coach in the Philippines, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
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