Ex-England manager Eriksson: ‘I’ll stick with Azkals longer than Butcher’

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Eriksson
Sven-Goran Eriksson with Dan Palami and Scott Cooper gives his first press conference as head coach of the Azkals today. Picture by Ayee Macaraig, via Twitter.

Ex-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has vowed to stick around for longer than his predecessor Terry Butcher as head coach of the Azkals.

The Philippine national football squad, who are preparing for their first Asian Cup, announced Eriksson’s appointment last week after the sudden departure of ex-England captain Butcher in August.

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Speaking at a press conference today (Monday, November 5), the 70-year-old Swede said: “I don’t know why he left in such a short time. I am going to stay much longer than he did, that’s for sure.”

Butcher was named coach in June but lasted less than 50 days, saying he was not “able to make this work” before even leading a training session.

Eriksson, who coached England to World Cup quarter-finals in 2002 and 2006, said he will be at the helm for this month’s AFF Suzuki Cup and the Asian Cup in January.

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Azkals general manager Dan Palami has said that Eriksson’s longer-term role was yet to be confirmed beyond the tournaments and “a little bit after, maybe about six months”.

“But we are looking at different areas where he can be part of the Philippine football scene even in a different capacity,” he added.

In 2001 Eriksson became the first foreigner to head England’s football team, and has since also coached national teams in Mexico and the Ivory Coast and league clubs in Sweden, Portugal, Italy and China.

He is taking on the Azkals as the team enjoys unprecedented success, having climbed to 111 in FIFA world rankings.

Eriksson said he took the Philippines job with an open mind: “I thought why not, why not do something a little bit different from what I’ve done before.”

He began training with the team yesterday. 

The AFF Suzuki Cup — the Southeast Asian championship — kicks off with a game against Singapore on November 13.

“I think the pressure is on the whole team to try to do better in the Suzuki Cup than the Philippines has done before. That means at least reaching the final,” he said.

As for the Asian Cup, the coach admitted it would be a tough challenge to go up against footballing heavyweights such as South Korea and China.

“I could easily say ‘win it’. I don’t know if it’s realistic to think that for the first time but let’s start with Suzuki Cup, that’s first,” he said.

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