Azkals ascend in FIFA rankings, still SEA’s No. 2

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hilippines’ Young husband (center)scores a goal from a penalty during anAFF Suzuki 2014 Cup match againstIndonesia at Hanoi’s My Dinh stadiumon November 25, 2014.  AFP PHOTO

hilippines’ Young husband (center)scores a goal from a penalty during anAFF Suzuki 2014 Cup match againstIndonesia at Hanoi’s My Dinh stadiumon November 25, 2014. AFP PHOTO

The Philippine Azkals went up one  notch higher to No. 134 in FIFA rankings and remain No.2 in Southeast Asia.

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From No.115, which was the highest ranking it attained in May, the Azkals’ rank plummeted in recent months because of its failure to engage in international friendlies.

Its regional rivals and reigning Southeast Asian champions Thailand are currently No. 120 while Vietnam is four paces behind the Philippines at No.138.

“It was bad. My goal was to bring the team above the 100th spot and be more attractive to sponsors. I can’t say it is enough. Success lies in the details. People, who don’t know football, will not understand why,” Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley told The Manila Times.

He lamented that the lack of friendlies disrupted the Azkals’ momentum in the international stage, “We had a great momentum after the last games but we couldn’t manage to organize two games in June for whatever reason. That means we dropped 15 points,” he said.

The Philippines attained its highest FIFA ranking following a 3-2 win against North Korea in the final game of the joint FIFA World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers in May.

The Azkals are now looking forward to their next campaign in Group A of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup where they will face Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand in their home turf later this year.

The management of the Azkals has lined up a series of tune-up matches as part of the team’s preparation for the tournament but Dooley revealed that two of those games would not push through.

“We missed the opportunity to close a deal to play two great games against Canada and Costa Rica next October,” he said.

The Azkals are set to play against the North Koreans in the next friendly window in Beijing before playing two more games against Kyrgyzstan.

“Other countries are not sleeping and getting better and better too. If we don’t watch out for the details, the chances will be very slim to be successful in the Suzuki Cup,” Dooley concluded.

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