by Jonas Terrado
The Philippine Azkals gained a favorable draw in the second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup/2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers after being placed in Group A during Wednesday’s proceedings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Joining the Azkals in the group are China, Syria, Maldives and Guam, putting them in a good position to at least secure an Asian Cup berth for the second straight time.
The qualifiers will start in September with teams playing eight games each across five international windows using a home-and-away format.
The group winner and possibly the second-placed team advance to the third round of the World Cup qualifiers while gaining automatic slots to the Asian Cup.
The team that places third and maybe the fourth-ranked squad will progress to the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers slated Sept. 2020.
The Azkals made their way to the Asian Cup for the first time ever last January after placing third in the second round of the qualifiers and second in the third round.
Under former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson, the Azkals lost all three matches against South Korea, China and Kyrgyzstan.