As part of its preparation for the crucial match in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 qualifiers, the Philippine men’s national football team is set to host Fiji in an international friendly game next month at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
The Azkals will battle the Bula Boys on March 22, five days before their important tiff against Tajikistan that may propel the Philippines to a historic maiden appearance in the top continental men’s football competition.
The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA)-sanctioned match will serve as the final tune-up game for head coach Thomas Dooley and his men ahead of their tussle against the Tajiks. Dooley’s wards need at least a draw against the Central Asian squad to advance to the Asian Cup main stage.
Lineup for the friendly game against Fiji as well as the match against Tajikistan is yet to be announced.
This marks the second time that the Filipino booters will play against a national team from the Oceania Football Confederation. The Philippines crushed Papua New Guinea, 5-0, in a friendly last October 2014.
Fiji is currently sitting at No. 168 in the FIFA rankings while the Philippines stand way higher at No. 123.
The Fijian squad boasts of a Summer Olympics appearance last 2016 and has recently achieved a runner-up finish in the inaugural men’s football tourney of the Pacific Mini Games.