The business end of the AFF Suzuki Cup begins today as the Philippine Men’s National Team battle Vietnam in the first leg of the semifinal today 2 December 2018 at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Kick off is at 7:30 PM.
The Azkals were unscathed during the group stages. The Philippines defeated Singapore and Timor Leste, and drew Thailand and Indonesia to finish group B in second place with 8 points.
However, the Philippines face group A winners Vietnam that were unbeaten during the group stages and have yet to concede a goal. This will be the fourth time since 2010 that the two sides will meet, the Philippines won in 2010 (2-0) and 2012 (1-0) but lost in 2014 (3-1).
Knowing that the first leg holds a lot of promise for both teams, head coach Sven Goran Eriksson bared that the thrill of the tournament was similar to his experience during the World Cup.
“No two games are ever the same but the feeling certainly is whether you go to the semifinals or quarterfinals of a big tournament such as the World Cup or the European Championships,” said Eriksson. “It’s a big tournament, there are a lot of people here and my feeling is the same as if at the World Cup.
Despite losing key players in Neil Etheridge, Daisuke Sato, Stephan Palla, Luke Woodland, and John-Patrick Strauss, Eriksson remains upbeat leading to the match.
“We know that we will meet a good team and it will be difficult because we only have 18 players but those 18 are all ready to play so let’s see what happens tomorrow,” added the Swede.
“It’s a big game, we’re all excited for the match,” said captain Phil Younghusband. “These are the games that we look forward to the most, the players want to play, games where something is on the line. Hopefully we can take full advantage of being here in Bacolod during the first leg and try to be the first team to break down the Vietnam defense.”