PH Azkals, China Dragons coaches put friendship aside
ABU DHABI—Philippines coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will rekindle his coaching rivalry with Italian World Cup-winning mentor Marcello Lippi when the Azkals take on the Dragons on Friday night in their AFC Asian Cup Group C encounter here.
The 70-year-old Eriksson and Lippi have had their share of battles dating back to two decades ago when they were still in the Italian league.
Their rivalry extended to China when Eriksson moved to the Chinese Super League in 2013 to coach Guangzhou R&F, which incidentally was the main rival of Guangzhou Evergrande, which had Lippi at that time.
And with Eriksson accepting the Azkals job just two months ago, the man who took England to the World Cup quarterfinals twice has found himself ranged against his old rival.
“It’s always good because Lippi is not just a great coach, but he is a good man as well,” said the Swede, who is of the same age as the Italian coach who led Italy to the 2006 World Cup title.
“We’re friends, but we will not be friends at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday). Before and after we are friends. It is good [to coach against Lippi], but you don’t feel that (friendship) during the game.”
The Azkals coach said he’s met Lippi probably “15 to 20 times” during the course of their careers.
Eriksson joked that he and Lippi may just have to place a friendly bet on the match.
“I’m not meeting Lippi,” Eriksson said. “We, the Philippines, are meeting China.”
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.