After splitting their first two matches in September to open the Second Round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 / AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification, the Philippines will face their toughest assignment in Group A as they play China PR on tonight, 15 October 2019 at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City.
The Azkals started the qualifiers with a 2-5 defeat to Syria in Bacolod last 5 September before bouncing back with a comprehensive 4-1 win away at Guam five days later to go to third place in the group.
In preparation for the China PR match, the Philippines made good use of their break, beating Thai League 1 side Chainat Hornbill FC, 3-1 in a training match.
All eyes will be the returning Neil Etheridge, with the Cardiff City FC goalkeeper back in the team after missing out on the opening pair of fixtures. There are also two new names in the lineup: Niko De Vera and Edison Suerti.
China won their first two matches unscathed (5-0 at Maldives last 10 September, and 7-0 win vs Guam in Guangzhou last Thursday) to move up on top of Group A ahead of fellow unbeaten side Syria on goal difference.
China will be led on by the striking duo of Yang Xi and Ai Kesen, as they combined for eight of the twelve goals they scored in their first two qualifiers, with the former leading the team with five.
This will be the third time that the two sides will meet in 2019, and fourth overall in the past two years, with China winning all three matches, only conceding once when Misagh Bahadoran scored last June 2017.
Apart from that, China also blanked the Azkals in their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 meeting last 11 January, and their most recent win came in a friendly on 6 June at Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou, a 2-0 result.
With the match to be played at home, the Philippines look to do their best and feel positive against the Chinese team.
The match between the Philippines and China will be shown live on 15 October on 5Plus. Tickets are available in SM Tickets nationwide, online, and at the stadium.