More than two weeks since the Philippine Men’s National Football Team’s qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup for the first time in history, the country has experienced its highest jump yet in the FIFA World Rankings.
The Azkals jumped nine places from 122 to 113 in the rankings with 288.53 points. Kenya is ranked 113th in the world, but leapfrogs the Philippines with 289.08 points.
The Philippines will therefore be in Pot 4 of the group stage draw alongside Bahrain, Jordan, Thailand, Yemen and Turkmenistan, which shall be held on May 4, 2018 in Dubai.
It is a remarkable turnaround for a country that was ranked as low as 191 in 2005. If the Azkals ranked one place higher, though, then the team would have been in Pot 3 of the draw with the likes of Uzbekistan, Iraq, India, Qatar, Vietnam and North Korea.
The positive news adds to the country’s momentum as it gears up for the upcoming 2018 AFF Championship, that will now follow a home and away format for the group stage. While the country is off to Asian football’s grandest stage, silverware at the regional level will be a welcome development for the growth of the sport in the country.
However, one important question that needs to be answered regarding the team is who will be its coach. Thomas Dooley’s contract with the team has already expired, while neither its renewal nor his successor have as yet been determined.
As per the FIFA Calendar, the next window for international friendlies shall be on September. There is still no word yet from the Philippine Football Federation as to whom and where the Azkals will play for that window.
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