National

Azkals' Schrock happy with draw

Azkals' Schrock happy with draw

Nailing a favorable draw compared to previous campaigns, the Philippines likes its chances of reaching the third round of 2022 World Cup qualifying starting September.

The Azkals are bunched with China, Syria, the Maldives and Guam in Group A of the 40-nation qualifying tournament that will determine Asia’s representatives in the sport’s showpiece event in Qatar in 2022.

“I’m happy with the draw,” Azkals captain Stephan Schrock told the Inquirer. “We’re not scared of any team and I think we can advance.”

The road to the World Cup will be a difficult one to say the least for the Azkals, but advancing to round three that also rewards teams an automatic berth to the AFC Asian Cup in China in 2023 remains more realistic.

The top team from each of the eight groups and the four best-second placed teams will make up the 12 teams that will be divided into two groups to play in another set of round-robin home and away matches.

And even with the team in a period of transition with former mainstays Phil and James Younghusband not even called up in recent matches, Schrock feels the Azkals can advance to the third round for the first time.

“I expect us to fight for the first two spots,” Schrock said.

The Azkals start their campaign against Syria on Sept. 5 at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City. They take on Guam on Sept. 10.