By Kevin Sox
The Philippine men’s football national team will kickstart their preparations for future qualifiers by playing powerhouse Asian side China in a friendly to commence on June 7 in Guangzhou.
The friendly will be as part of the Azkals’ training for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar qualifiers and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
The Azkals faced China twice in a two-year span already. They got thwarted in a friendly, 8-1 in 2017 before faltering again 3-nil in the AFC Asian Cup group stages earlier this year.
The Philippines and China are 50 spots apart in the FIFA world rankings, with the former at 124th while China at 74th.
But the Azkals have shown progress over the years, particularly a 1-nil loss over Korea in the AFC Asian Cup, a result lauded by football pundits in the country.
The Azkals will hope to keep progressing in the sport where they have reached new heights in this decade, and facing such a strong squad for a friendly to open preparations is only an encouraging sign.