MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals may be one of the hottest teams competing in the 2012 Suzuki Cup, but they will be facing a tough road ahead in their journey to the finals.
The Azkals will need to compile enough points in their Group A clashes against former titlists Thailand and Vietnam, and qualifier Myanmar, to make it to the tournament semis.
According to tournament rules, a team gets 3 points for each win, 1 point for a draw and none for a defeat.
The Azkals will begin their campaign against three-time champion Thailand on Saturday at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.
This will be followed by another match against 2008 titlist and current top seed Vietnam on November 27 and a clash against Myanmar on November 30.
After the single round series, the top two teams in Group A will advance to the crossover semis against the two topnotchers in Group B, which is composed of reigning Cup champion Malaysia, runner-up Indonesia, Laos and Singapore.
If the Azkals emerge as the top team in Group A, they will play a home-and-away series against the runners up of Group B.
Should the Filipinos settle for second place in their group, they will tangle against the winning team of Group B.
The winners of the crossover semis or the “Knockout Round” will advance to the “Final Round” of the Cup.
The winner of the final round will be determined by another home-and-away series.
The Philippines has become an emerging football nation in Southeast Asia following its breakthrough performance in the 2010 edition of the Cup.
After holding Singapore to a 1-1 standoff, the Azkals pulled off a sensational 2-0 victory over then defending champion Vietnam.
The Filipinos completed their march to the semifinal round by holding Myanmar to a scoreless draw, before succumbing to eventual second placer Indonesia in the Knockout Round (2-0 aggregate).