In a remarkable turn of events, the Philippine Azkals will complete their joint 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifying matches in Dubai rather than Suzhou, China.
A report by international news agency Reuters stated that Chinese Football Association announced that recent COVID-19 infections were spotted with the international teams of Syria and the Maldives. This provokes Chinese protocols, which state that players from both teams have to undergo quarantine and are now unavailable for selection.
This new development also affects the Philippines and Guam, which recently lost 0-7 last night at the hands of China. There is still no word, though, if there will be revisions to the Azkals’ schedule. Their original schedule had Guam on June 3, China on June 7, and the Maldives on June 15.
Currently, Scott Cooper’s men are in a training camp in Doha, Qatar. They have been beset by absences from different players including the vital goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
The Azkals also have a scheduled chartered flight to China today, but this situation changes everything.
As it currently stands, the Azkals sit in 3rd place with 7 points in Group A, with the likes of Syria and China on top with 15 and 10 points respectively. Cooper’s men are targeting three wins for a chance to make it to the next qualification phase of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. That will also formally book a ticket to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.