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.”


Liverpool cleared to win Premier League at Anfield

Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente scores a goal against Liverpool during their match in London. The Reds will play against Everton on June 21. (Reuters/File)
Updated 06 June 2020

Liverpool cleared to win Premier League at Anfield

  • All remaining 92 Premier League games this season will be played behind closed doors, but there are fears that hosting the game in Liverpool could encourage supporters to congregate around stadiums

LONDON: Premier League leaders Liverpool could claim a first title for 30 years at Anfield after the initial batch of fixtures of the restart was announced on Friday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men, with a commanding 25-point lead at the top of the table, were just two wins away from clinching the title before coronavirus forced the suspension of football in March.
Liverpool’s first match back is against Everton on June 21. The Merseyside derby is due to take place at Goodison Park, less than a mile from Anfield, but a venue has not been confirmed by the Premier League. Crystal Palace will then visit Anfield three days later.
Wins in both of those matches would guarantee Liverpool’s first English top-flight title since 1990. But if Manchester City lose at home to Arsenal on June 17, the Reds would be champions if they beat Everton.
Liverpool City Council’s safety advisory group will meet next week to make a decision on whether the game can go ahead at Goodison or should be moved to a neutral venue.
All remaining 92 Premier League games this season will be played behind closed doors, but there are fears that hosting the game in Liverpool could encourage supporters to congregate around stadiums.

SPEEDREAD

Liverpool’s first match back is against Everton on June 21. The Merseyside derby is due to take place at Goodison Park, less than a mile from Anfield, but a venue has not been confirmed by the Premier League. Crystal Palace will then visit Anfield three days later.

The only other match that could be moved to a neutral venue from the first three rounds of fixtures is Liverpool’s visit to City on July 2.
The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, voiced fears that “there would be many thousands of people who would turn up outside Anfield” on the day Liverpool’s long wait for a league title was ended.
That has been disputed by the club, who said they have engaged with supporters’ groups to make sure social-distancing guidelines are followed.
Aston Villa will host Sheffield United in the first match of “Project Restart,” followed by Arsenal’s trip to City on June 17.
Manchester United’s visit to Tottenham will spearhead the first full round of matches spread over four days from June 19 to 22.
Premier League CEO Richard Masters said: “We know it won’t be the same without our loyal supporters in stadiums but, together with our broadcast partners, we are able to ensure fans can watch or listen to each match live from home.”