MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Azkals team manager Dan Palami believes the national men's football team will be unable to pull off surprises in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup in November because other teams will be more prepared for them.
"We're not coming in as a surprise team anymore," Palami told Asean Football, referring to the Azkals' magical campaign in the 2010 edition of the tournament.
There, the Azkals defeated defending champion Vietnam, 2-0, to book a semi-finals berth where they eventually lost to Indonesia.
"We're coming in as one of the favorites," Palami said.
Ian Griffiths, senior editor of ESPN Star Sports, said he is not sure he agrees with Palami, but added that "you never know."
The Azkals were drawn into the 'Group of Death,' with Thailand, Vietnam and the winning team of the qualifying round.
In Spin.ph, Palami said he would have wanted to be drawn in a different group, but said that "there is no weak group" in the tournament.
"If we want to win, we have to beat the strongest teams. That’s the only way to go about it," he added.
The Azkals' Suzuki Cup campaign will kick off on November 24 against Thailand.