Azkals open season with friendly vs Fiji
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - February 22, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Azkals will hit the field for the first time in 2018 in an international friendly against Fiji on March 22 at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Ranked 168th in the world, the Fiji Bula Boys will help the 123rd-ranked Azkals prepare for their crucial AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match set five days later against Tajikistan in the same venue.

“This will serve as the final tune-up game of the men’s team before its match against Tajikistan,” the Philippine Football Federation said in announcing the friendly yesterday.

The Pinoy booters will be gunning for a victory or a draw against the Tajiks in the final day of group action to complete their dream entry into Asia’s version of the Fifa World Cup. The Group F leaders Azkals have stood on the verge of qualification but got stalled by successive draws with Yemen and Nepal in their previous outings.

Fiji will be the second side from Oceania to play Phl XI. In 2014, the Azkals played Papua New Guinea at home and won handily, 5-0, in a friendly set as part of the Filipinos’ preparations for the AFF Suzuki Cup back then.

The Bula Boys will also be making their first appearance for the year.

“The Philippines is a very good team in Asia and we look forward to the match,” said Fiji Football Association president Rajesh Patel.

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