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Neighbors Vietnam potential visitors for Azkals in September

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The Philippines men’s national football team, more popularly known as the Azkals, are bound to battle Uzbekistan on the 8th of September at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. Prior to that vital encounter, the Azkals are on BYE. Planning to maximize the break, Thomas Dooley’s army may be welcoming Vietnam with a 90-minute duel–on the pitch that is.

Aside from Vietnam, the Philippine Football Federation was also targeting to host Thailand days before the Uzbekistan game but it does not look possible for both teams are bound to play at home on September 8. The new-look Azkals played superbly in the last two qualifiers matches, and it would have been interesting to pit the 23-man roster of Dooley against the champions of the region. Nevertheless, the Vietnamese surely offer a similar challenge.

The potential international friendly may prove beneficial for both teams. For the Philippines, they will acquire valuable experience in taking on Vietnam, who have been one of the best teams in the region for the past decade. Although considered inferior to Uzbekistan, the Vietnamese will surely bring out the competitive nature of the Azkals. Overall head-to-head records between the Southeast Asian teams may appear to be lopsided in favor of Vietnam, but only recent meetings matter to both parties.

Prior to the resurgence of Philippine football, Vietnam won five games and drew just once against the team residing on the other side of the South China Sea. Since 2010, the Azkals won two of the last three meetings against the Vietnamese, who were the winners in their latest face-off in the penultimate month of last year. Since then, the Vietnamese have been wary with the Filipinos, who in turn grow more excited every time they see the shining yellow star embossed on a red background on their opponent’s shirts.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Neighbors Vietnam potential visitors for Azkals in September

image used with permission from AFFSuzukiCup.com

As for Vietnam, a stopover south of their September 8 destination, which is in Chinese Taipei, may also be pragmatic. Determined to rebound from their 0-1 loss to Thailand, Vietnam will head into the island nation needing nothing less than a victory. They may go to Taipei as favorites, but the chances of them falling victim to the upset trap is not as low as most may think. In playing against the Philippines, Vietnam Head Coach Toshiya Miura will be given a chance to recalibrate his team to success around 1161 kilometers north of Manila. To do so, he may find this friendly as the opportunity to tweak and experiment or assess his selection process against Chinese Taipei.

The meeting is not yet finalized, but it surely presents a new exciting chapter in what seems to be a brewing regional rivalry. Regardless of the outcome and the importance, bragging rights are always at stake. Most certainly, no team will want to go home empty handed.

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