Sven-Goran Eriksson’s ‘street dogs’ put Philippines on Asian Cup map

Philippines’ coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, left, meets South Korea’s coach Paulo Bento prior to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup game between South Korea and the Philippines at the Al-Maktoum stadium in Dubai. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2019

Sven-Goran Eriksson’s ‘street dogs’ put Philippines on Asian Cup map

  • Ranked a lowly 116th in the world, the Azkals (street dogs) bared their teeth against South Korea in Abu Dhabi this week, giving the favorites a real fright before eventually losing 1-0
  • Sven-Goran Eriksson: The Philippines is unfortunately not a football country — basketball is more popular. But if this generation of players can do well at the Asian Cup, they can change that

ABU DHABI: They may not be able to bend it quite like David Beckham, but Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Philippines have made an instant impact in their first appearance at the Asian Cup.
Ranked a lowly 116th in the world, the Azkals (street dogs) bared their teeth against South Korea in Abu Dhabi this week, giving the favorites a real fright before eventually losing 1-0 — a far cry from the hammering many had predicted.
“It’s a different challenge,” Eriksson told AFP in an interview Thursday.
“The Philippines is unfortunately not a football country — basketball is more popular. But if this generation of players can do well at the Asian Cup, they can change that.”
Eriksson took charge of the Philippines last November on a short-term contract until the end of the Asian Cup.
And the Swede is relishing the slower pace after a glittering coaching career that included spells at Lazio, Manchester City and, most famously, five years in the England hot seat from 2001 to 2006.
“Here it’s much more quiet,” smiled the 70-year-old.
“If you travel around the world with David Beckham it’s total chaos everywhere you go.
“I was amazed how he could focus on the football,” added Eriksson, who was hounded by media and had his private life splashed across the tabloids during his time as England boss.
“None of my players have even played at an Asian Cup, but they’re professional, they fight — like England or Lazio or whoever it is.”
A team mostly cherry-picked from overseas, the players who started against South Korea all had at least one non-Filipino parent, sparking renewed debate in the country over ethnicity after Filipino-Australian model Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe last month.
“I’m very proud of them,” insisted Eriksson, who steered the Philippines to the knockout stages of the southeast Asian championships in his first assignment.
“They stood up to a very good Korean team. I’m very curious to see if we can do it again tomorrow.”
Bustling forward Javier Patino could prove a thorn in China’s side on Friday in a match which sees Eriksson lock horns with his old foe Marcello Lippi.
But there will be more on the line than three points.
“I think I’ve met Lippi in Italy and China 20 times maybe,” said Eriksson, who spent four years in Chinese club football from 2013 to 2017.
“When I was at Sampdoria and Lazio, he had Inter (Milan), Juventus and Napoli — Italian Cup finals, so many games — and we are friends still.
“I will take my usual best with him,” added the Swede. “Whoever loses has to buy dinner and a very good red wine.”
Eriksson turned down jobs with Cameroon and Iraq to coach the Philippines but whatever the result against China and fellow Asian Cup first-timers Kyrgyzstan next week, he has no regrets.
“I like the people, I like the players,” he said. “We are more like a team today than we were a month ago.”
Asked about his future, Eriksson suggested whimsically he could end his career where it began as a player — at amateur side Torsby.
“I’ll always have my local team in Sweden — it’s a village team,” he said.
“But I don’t have any plans — and at my age in football, it’s better not to have plans.”


Mohamed Salah scores two as Liverpool outclass Arsenal in 3-1 win

Updated 24 August 2019

Mohamed Salah scores two as Liverpool outclass Arsenal in 3-1 win

  • Salah converted a penalty after being fouled by David Luiz
  • Liverpool will end the third round of games as the only team with nine points from a possible nine

LIVERPOOL, England: Mohamed Salah converted a penalty before scoring a sublime solo goal as Liverpool beat Arsenal 3-1 to open up a three-point gap at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Liverpool hadn’t found its best form in opening wins over Norwich and Southampton, and faced the only other top-flight team with a 100 percent record.
It proved to be a mismatch.
After Joel Matip’s first league goal in 11 months broke the deadlock just before halftime, Salah converted a penalty after being fouled by David Luiz and then made it 3-0 by turning Luiz near halfway, sprinting down the right wing and cutting in to deliver a finish into the bottom corner.
Substitute Lucas Torreira scored a consolation for Arsenal five minutes from the end.
Liverpool will end the third round of games as the only team with nine points from a possible nine.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with the hosts setting a high tempo that penned Arsenal back in the final third. Within 80 seconds, Andy Robertson whipped a ball across the six-yard area which Roberto Firmino narrowly missed.
Arsenal manager Unai Emery’s tactics were to defend deep with eight men behind the ball in an attempt to draw the opponent in before trying to release the explosive pace of offseason signing Nicolas Pepe, given a full debut at the expense of Alexandre Lacazette.
Pepe had three chances in the first half, while Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian — fresh from the error that cost his team a goal at Southampton last week — came out of his area to clear the ball only to find Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who lobbed the ball back just past the far post.
Pepe’s best chance came when Jordan Henderson’s mistake on the halfway line allowed the Ivory Coast international to run past Robertson but, in a one-on-one situation with Adrian, he shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Soon, incessant pressure on Arsenal’s defense began to tell and after Salah held off Granit Xhaka to cleverly turn and fire wide, the breakthrough came.
From a corner, Trent Alexander-Arnold finally found his range and Matip benefited from the space created by Virgil van Dijk’s tangle with Matteo Guendouzi to power home a 41st-minute header.
Sadio Mane should have done better with his header in injury time but if the interval was a period for Arsenal’s players to clear their heads, no one told Luiz who, in a moment of madness four minutes after the break, tugged on Salah’s shirt.
The Egypt international confidently dispatched the penalty and added a second by brilliantly putting the seal on a three-pass move which eliminated most of the opposition.
Started by Adrian and including Alexander-Arnold, the ball came to Fabinho who flicked forward an inviting ball allowing Salah to skip past Luiz with embarrassing ease 40 yards out. He ran into the penalty area before placing a shot inside the far post with his left foot.
It was then an exercise in damage limitation for the visitors, with Emery’s first change being to send on combative midfielder Torreira for playmaker Ivan Ceballos.
Lacazette, scorer of 19 goals last season and one in one match this season, was not introduced until the 81st minute — and even then it was Torreira who eventually found the net, drilling home a loose ball 15 yards out.