Vietnam dislodges Azkals as region’s top footballers


The Philippine is no longer the highest ranked football team in Southeast Asia.

In the December 2017 FIFA rankings, the country’s national team known as the Philippine Azkals occupied the 124th slot, down from the November 2017 place of 118th.

That spot makes the Philippine Azkals only the second-best Southeast Asian football team.

The top nation in the region is now Vietnam, at 112th in the latest FIFA ranking or up from 125th as of last month’s listing by world football’s governing body.

Thailand placed 130th in the December listing or up by two rungs from November’s 132.

Azkal Phil Younghusband (right) fights for the ball against Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Quyet during their AFF Suzuki Cup match at Hanoi’s My Dinh stadium on November 28, 2014. AFP PHOTO

Vietnam and Thailand are regarded as top rivals of the Philippines in the region.

Against Vietnam, the Philippine Azkals has had a better record than against Thailand.

The Filipinos defied all odds in 2010 by scoring a breakthrough win against the Vietnamese, 2-0, in the then-Suzuki Cup.

Proving that it was not plain luck that enabled them to beat Vietnam, the Azkals repeated against the Vietnamese, 1-0, in the 2012 edition of the biennial Suzuki Cup.

The Philippines, however, has had a lackluster record against Thailand, which is considered as a Southeast Asian football power.

Tajikistan, which the Philippines will meet for a slot in the 2019 Asian Cup, the continent’s premier football tournament, was ranked 126th in the latest FIFA ranking, up from 127th in November.

A draw against the Tajiks would not be enough for automatic qualification for the Asian Cup for the Philippine Azkals.

They could have nailed such qualification if they defeated Nepal but the match in Kathmandu in November ended in a scoreless draw.

According to football watchers, it could have been a walk in the park for the Philippine Azkals, only that the Nepalis were not keen on going on a stroll with the Philippine national team.


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