MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines begins its uphill battle when it kicks off its campaign against fancied Singapore on Thursday in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Filipino booters, who wound up last in their group 3 years ago in Bangkok, will be hoping for a far better result against the Singaporeans in their 5 p.m. showdown to start Group B action in the 8-nation tournament.
Singapore is a 3-time champion of the tournament, and boasts of a tall and strong squad, which includes several naturalized Serbians and Nigerians.
The Philippines advanced as the No. 2 team in the qualifying tournament in Vientiane, Laos, where it beat Timor Leste, 5-0, before drawing against Cambodia and Laos, respectively.
National team manager Dan Palami, who is also president of the Leyte Football Association, is unfazed by the tough odds faced by his team.
“Our team is capable of pulling off a surprise,” Palami said. “We know Singapore is a very strong team, but our team has also shown great character in our previous games even though we were trailing. We never give up.”
The Filipinos clash with host and defending champion Vietnam on December 5, before wrapping up its campaign against Myanmar three days later.
Singapore is on a roll, placing second in the Vietnam Football Federation Cup, where the Lions drew against Vietnam, 1-1, and beat South Korea’s Under-23 side, 2-0.
They also posted a 4-0 win over Laos over the weekend in their final warm-up match for the Suzuki Cup.