Eriksson, Patiño have inside info on Chinese squad
ABU DHABI—The Philippines needs all the knowledge it can get from within its team to overcome the odds in the AFC Asian Cup here.
That’s why the presence of Swedish coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and striker Javier Patiño has become more important than ever as the Azkals again go for an upset, this time against powerhouse China on Friday night at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium here.
The 70-year-old Eriksson spent four years coaching three clubs in China until 2017, while Patiño played three seasons for Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League.
The duo’s knowledge of the opposition will be key as the Azkals go up against a team that beat them, 8-1, in a friendly two years ago in Guangzhou.
“I know the team very well,” said Eriksson. “Some of the players especially those who play for [Guangzhou] Evergrande and some of the players I coached in Shanghai [SIPG].
Eriksson points to striker Wu Lei as China’s main attacking threat. Wu, who has 13 goals in 60 appearances for the national side, was the Chinese Super League’s top scorer last season with 27 goals from 30 matches as he led Shanghai SIPG to the title.
“He’s extremely quick, clever and very dangerous. He will create problems for us,” said Eriksson.
“They (China) are a big team [in Asia], but we also have great players and we will try to win the game,” said Patiño, who started ahead of Phil Younghusband in the 1-0 defeat to South Korea on Monday night in Dubai. “I want to do my best always for the Philippines, but it’s special because it’s the first time that I’m playing against China and because I was playing there for three years.”
Patiño vividly remembers the time when he received a hero’s welcome in Henan in March 2016 after the Azkals beat North Korea, 3-2, in Manila in World Cup Qualifying.
That result helped China reach the next phase of World Cup Qualifying as one of the four best second placers from the eight groups. It also clinched Chinese’s berth in the AFC Asian Cup here.
“A lot of people in China treat me like a hero, but I will try to score a goal and win the game,” said the Filipino-Spanish striker, who now plays for Buriram United in Thailand.
“We need to win the game and we will try to attack more, if we need to,” said Patiño.
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