Tue. Oct 26th, 2021


Philippine Azkals at their first training day in Doha, Qatar

FILE – The Philippine Azkals during their first training day in Doha, Qatar. Photo from Philippine Azkals Twitter

MANILA, Philippines—National team head coach Scott Cooper said the Azkals are not letting their guard down in the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup even though they face a nearly identical group from 2018.

The Philippines was drawn into Group A with Myanmar, Thailand, and Singapore with the winner of the qualification round match between Timor Leste and Brunei.

“I think we take it how it is and ironically the last time we played in the Suzuki Cup, we had Singapore, Timor-Leste, who could be there, and Thailand with the only difference is Indonesia, which is in the other group,” said Cooper in the Philippine Football video Wednesday. “It’s almost like a replay of 2018. It’s an interesting one.”

Scott Cooper on AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 draw

Azkals coach Scott Cooper shares his thoughts on the #AFFSuzukiCup2020 draw. “You have to look at Thailand as the strongest team in the group.”#OneBlood#OneDestiny#PILIPINAS

Posted by The Azkals on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Azkals played Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Timor Leste in the 2018 tournament.

“I think as far as the draw goes, it’s an interesting one. I never want to say I’m pleased with the draw but I’m not disappointed with the draw.”

The Philippines finished the group stage in 2018 at second place with a 2-2-0 (win-draw-loss) record behind Group B leader Thailand which went 3-1-0.

Eventual champion Vietnam booted out the Philippines in the semifinals with a 4-2 aggregate score.

Cooper predicted that Thailand would be the toughest of the bunch while Singapore and Myanmar will always pose a threat.

“You have to look at Thailand as the strongest team in the group and Singapore is always well organized and Myanmar always has talent. You have both Brunei and Timor-Leste, two teams that will fight,” said Cooper.

The 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup, which had been postponed twice, will be played from December 5, 2021 to January 1, 2022 in a centralized venue that the AFF will soon announce.

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