By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE Philippine men’s national football team made a coaching coup when it announced at the weekend that it has signed up former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson to handle the team as it competes for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
Philippine Azkals officials said Mr. Eriksson, who also had coaching jobs in Italy, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, and China, met the team in its training camp recently in Doha, Qatar, and like what he saw and the potential of Philippine football, and decided to come on board.
Mr. Eriksson also having worked with interim coach Scott Cooper at English club Leicester City previously helped in seeing the deal, reportedly for six months, completed, officials said.
“Sven Goran Eriksson and Scott Cooper worked together at Leicester City so when we were looking at the candidates, I mean I’ve always been a dreamer so why not go for it, and fortunately I was able to sell to Sven the dream of Philippine football,” longtime Azkals team manager Dan Palami told members of media on Saturday at the trophy tour for the Suzuki Cup at the World Trade Center, as to the circumstances that led to the signing of Swede Eriksson.
“He’s been there. He has done it. Beyond the financial remuneration, it’s not about that. I think for him, he believes in the legacy that he can leave for Philippine football in Asia at least. I think we both believe the Philippines is the best bet to invest his time and effort in and I’m glad he agreed, Looking forward to working for him,” added Mr. Palami, who did not give financial details of the deal.
Mr. Eriksson and the Azkals will start working for the AFF Suzuki Cup which kicks off on Nov. 8. The Philippines will begin its campaign on Nov. 13 here at home at the Panaad Football Stadium in Bacolod against Singapore.
Mr. Palami said their final camp for the Suzuki Cup begins on Nov. 3 and that Mr. Eriksson is already in contact with Mr. Cooper to make the necessary preparations.
“Nov. 3 will be the start of the final camp then we leave for Bacolod on Nov. 7. He (Eriksson) has been in contact with Scott and has made the necessary preparations for us to succeed in the AFF Suzuki Cup,” Mr. Palami said.
“He has seen the team and like what he saw in Qatar. I’m interested in seeing how Scott and Sven would go about the training,” Mr. Palami said.
In the Suzuki Cup, apart from Singapore, joining the Philippines in Group B are Thailand, Indonesia and Timor-Liste.
In Group A are Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.
The Azkals are also set to see action in their first AFC Asian Cup competition where it is grouped with South Korea, China and Kyrgyzstan in Group C.
Mr. Palami said training for the Asian Cup begins on Dec. 26.