Suzuki Cup venue to determine Azkals lineup

After getting a minor break with the draw of the Suzuki Cup, Philippine men’s national football team is now awaiting for the venue to be finalized so they can start checking who could be available for the biennial Southeast Asian tournament set to start this Dec. 5, 2021.

Forming a team for the Suzuki Cup has always been challenging for the Philippines at some of its players are based in Europe and the Suzuki Cup isn’t part of the Fifa calendar. Compounding the problems this year is the different restrictions each country has for travel due to Covid.

CRUCIAL. The probability of Gerrit Holtman, seeing action in the Suzuki Cup may hinge on the venue for the event. Holtman plays in Germany, which has listed four Asean countries as high-risk areas.

“Not to worried about the draw as any team in each pot will always pose a challenge. More worried about the venue because it will determine if players will be allowed by their clubs to participate; that is if the venue is red listed, clubs might not allow players to go if it will require the player to quarantine for 10 to 14 days,” said national team manager Dan Palami.

Germany, for example, considers the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Myanmar as high risk areas as of Sept. 12, while the UK has put Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines,Thailand in its red list. Countries in the list are expected to change as the Covid situation changes.

Palami, who has been with the national team since its breakout year in 2010, said they are preparing for any eventualities.

For the Suzuki Cup, the Philippines is in Group A along with Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore and the winner of the playoff between Timor Leste and Brunie. Malaysia and Vietnam, the finalists in 2018, are in Group B along with Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.

More worried about the venue because it will determine if players will be allowed by their clubs to participate.

Dan Palami

After making three straight semis appearances, the Philippines failed to advance to the semis in 2016, when it was one of the group hosts. It made the semis again in 2018, finishing second to Thailand (10 points) after draws with Thailand (1-1) and Indonesia (0-0) and wins over Singapore (1-0) and Timor Leste (3-2).

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

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