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After failing in 2022, Azkals try to qualify for 2026 FIFA World Cup

By: Glendale G. Rosal - CDN Digital Correspondent | July 28,2023 - 04:14 PM


The Philippine Azkals during their back-to-back friendly matches in Manila last June. | Photo from the PFF

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals will try their luck in the second round of qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

It can be recalled that the Azkals blew their 2022 FIFA World Cup aspirations in 2021 after losing to China, 0-2, in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian Cup qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates.

This time, they’re targeting to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026, which will be cho-hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Their first task is to advance from the second round of qualifiers set this November and June 2024.

The Azkals are under Group F with Southeast Asian powerhouse Vietnam, along with Iraq, during last Thursday’s draw in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Also, the winning team between Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam will be included in Group F.

READ: In search of wins, Azkals also looking to regain relevance

The Azkals had a rough year so far.

Last January, they were booted out of the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022 after losing to Indonesia, 1-2, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

In March, they went to the Middle East and faced Kuwait and Jordan in back-to-back friendly matches to keep the team active. They lost to Kuwait, 0-2, and 0-4 against Jordan.

After that, the Azkals hosted a pair of friendlies against Nepal and Chinese Taipei last June. That time, they won over Nepal, 1-0, but lost to a heartbreaker against Chinese Taipei, 2-3.

Despite their roller coaster ride this year, the Azkals were able to improve their FIFA global rankings.

They moved a place higher from 136th in last April’s FIFA rankings to 135th last month, making them the third-highest-ranked Southeast Asian national football team among 11 other nations in the region.

They’re behind Thailand, which is ranked at No. 113, and Vietnam which leads the Southeast Asian region at No. 95.    /rcg


Azkals move up in FIFA men’s world rankings, now 3rd best nat’l football team in Southeast Asia



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TAGS: Azkals, FIFA World Cup, football

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