How they qualified:
Ranked 129th on the world ranking, the Philippines were given a bye to the second round of AFC qualifying, where they finished on 10 points behind North Korea and Uzbekistan in Group H. In the final round of qualifying they topped Group F ahead of Yemen, Tajikistan and Nepal to qualify for their maiden Asian Cup.
This will be the Philippines’s first participation in the Asian Cup.
Star player and Premier League goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who has more than 60 caps for the Philippines, was omitted from the final squad for the tournament. He plays for Cardiff City, but no reason was given for his absence. Michael Falkesgaard (pictured) from Bangkok United, Kevin Ray Hansen from AC Horsens and Nathanael Ace Villanueva from Kaya FC-Iloilo will form the Philippines’s goalkeeping trio in the United Arab Emirates.
In October former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson (pictured) was named as head coach, succeeding Terry Butcher, who had departed without taking charge of a game. The Swede signed a six-month deal with the Philippines. No salary details were revealed, but Eriksson will enjoy the help of Scott Cooper. In the past the 70-year old Eriksson has coached Mexico and Ivory Coast, and numerous club teams including Roma, Lazio, Benfica and Manchester City. In 2017 he was fired from his last job by his Chinese club Shenzhen.
What we can expect:
The Philippines have traditionally been minnows in ASEAN football and yet they will be among the three representatives of the region at the Asian Cup. The 2010 Suzuki Cup has always been considered a turning point for the Philippines as they reached the knockout stages for the first time. They have steadily built since and former coach Thomas Dooley and team managers Dan Palami have been among the key figures along the road. In Group C they face tough opponents in South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan, but their presence at the tournament is a victory in itself as Philippino football often struggles from a lack of funding as the inter-federation and league battles have hampered the development of the game in the vast country.
Schedule (Group C)
Jan 7 vs South Korea, Al-Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
Jan 11 vs China, Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Jan 16 vs Kyrgyzstan, Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai
Asian Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Michael Falkesgaard (Bangkok United), Kevin Ray Hansen (AC Horsens), Nathanael Ace Villanueva (Kaya FC-Iloilo).
Defenders: Carlos De Murga (Ceres Negros FC), Stephan Palla (Buriram United), Daisuke Sato (Sepsi Sfântu Gheorghe), Alvaro Silva (Kedah FA), Luke Woodland (Suphanburi).
Midfielders: Adam Tull (Davao Aguilas FC), Kevin Ingreso (Ceres Negros FC), Paul Mulders (Ceres Negros FC), Manuel Ott (Ceres Negros FC), Mike Rigoberto Ott (Ceres Negros FC), Stephan Schrock (Ceres Negros FC), John-Patrick Strauss (Erzgebirge Aue), Miguel Javier Tanton (Kaya F.C.), James Younghusband (Davao Aguilas).
Forwards: Jovin Bedic (Kaya F.C), Curt Dizon (Ceres Negros FC), Javier Patino (Buriram United), Iain Ramsay (Felda United), Patrick Reichelt Ceres Negros FC), Philip Younghusband (Davao Aguilas).