After qualifying for next year's AFC Asian Cup, expectations are high for the Philippine Azkals in their bid for ASEAN supremacy in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
The national football team, ranked 114th in the FIFA Rankings, is set to face tough but familiar competition in the group stages, such as Singapore, Timor Leste, Thailand, and Indonesia. Apart from Timor Leste, the Philippines faced the same foes when the group stages were held in Manila in 2016.
The official lineup, however, has yet to be revealed.
With the new format, the Azkals will have two home and two away fixtures. The matches against Singapore on November 13 and Thailand on November 21 will be played at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod, Negros Occidental. The Azkals will face Timor Leste on November 17 at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and will take on Indonesia on November 25 at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia.
All of the matches will be broadcast on ESPN5.
The national football team is coming off a draw against a strong Oman side, ranked 85th in the FIFA Rankings, in a friendly in Qatar. Prior to that, the Azkals competed in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup International Football Tournament 2018 where they managed a semifinal finish.
The Azkals have reached the semifinals of the AFF Suzuki Cup three times in the past (2010, 2012, 2014) but the team is hopeful they can finally advance to the finals this time around.
Aside from the AFF Suzuki Cup, the Azkals are also busy preparing for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 which will be held in the United Arab Emirates.