Sven-Goran Eriksson started his job as head coach of the Azkals with a 1-0 win over Singapore in the Asean Football Federation Championship.
The ex-England manager was appointed last month to lead the Philippine national team through the Asean Championship before taking them on to their first finals of the Asian Cup in January.
However, the Swede still has a mountain to climb to improve the team following their somewhat lacklustre performance against the Singaporeans yesterday evening (Tuesday, November 13).
Despite dominating possession, the Azkals created few convincing openings, with captain Phil Younghusband going closest to breaking the deadlock before Patrick Reichelt scored the only goal of the game 12 minutes before the final whistle.
“It’s amazing, scoring at Panaad and getting the three points to start the tournament,” said Reichelt. “We had some problems at the start, but we changed the game in the second half. James (Younghusband) helped us a lot and we made everything quicker.”
“We’re happy we got the three points, but it was a difficult game,” said Eriksson. “Singapore was playing direct and they were very difficult to defend. But tactically we made some changes and we showed good fighting spirit.”
The win gives the Philippines three points and sees them go level with Thailand, Indonesia and the Singaporeans in group B of the tournament. The top two in the five-team group will advance to the semi-finals.
Prior to the match, Eriksson was careful to manage expectations. Speaking at a press conference, he said: “I know we have a good team but I was impressed by Singapore the other day and I expect a tough game.
“I am not worried but we should respect Singapore because of what they did to Indonesia and have good players.”
Sven’s impact is certainly not lost on his players especially on Younghusband who also spoke at the pre-match press conference.
“I was a 15 year old boy when he was managing England so for me personally he is one of the best managers in the world,” he said.
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