Fifa: Azkals now ranked No. 1 in Southeast Asia
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - October 17, 2013 - 9:10pm

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday leap-frogged to its best-ever standing in the International Football Federation (Fifa) world rankings and spiked this latest achievement with its emergence as the new No. 1 nation in Southeast Asia.

Fresh from ruling the Phl Peace Cup in Bacolod, the Pinoy booters received another milestone as they vaulted into 137th spot in the Fifa’s latest monthly list – their highest since the introduction of the ranking list in 1993.

With this new position, Phl also zoomed to the top of the table among Asean nations, bumping off Thailand (142nd), Myanmar (149th), Vietnam (151st), reigning AFF Suzuki Cup champion Singapore (155th), Malaysia (160th), Indonesia (162nd), Laos (167th), Brunei and Timor Leste (joint 163rd) and Cambodia (198th).

The Azkals earned 129 ranking points from their 3-1 victory over Pakistan in the last day of the Peace Cup, a win that’s one for the books as they crawled back from a 0-1 deficit and secured the needed two-goal margin to claim the title.

 â€œThis is the result of the hard work and sacrifice of those involved with the national team, particularly the players and the support of the Philippine Football Federation,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.

“Getting the top ranking in Southeast Asia has been our goal since we started with the national team. I’m glad that our efforts have been rewarded,” he added.

PFF president Nonong Araneta, for his part, said: “We hope that the new ranking will continue inspiring the team to reach greater heights.”

Despite being the top dog in SEA in terms of world rankings, though, the Phl will not be competing in the SEA Games in Myanmar, the region’s premier competition for U-23 football, as it couldn’t get the blessing from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

This feat, meanwhile, should provide a huge confidence boost for the Azkals as they gear up for the 2014 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup.

"We want to win the Challenge Cup and represent the country in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup," said Palami.

ASIAN CUP ASIAN FOOTBALL CONFEDERATION CHALLENGE CUP AZKALS BRUNEI AND TIMOR LESTE CHALLENGE CUP DAN PALAMI FIFA INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL FEDERATION MYANMAR SOUTHEAST ASIA
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