The Philippines faces Papua New Guinea in an international friendly on Sunday at Rizal Memorial Stadium as part of its preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup.
Left searching for a new opponent for the international window this month after the match with Malaysia was cancelled, the Azkals face a relatively unknown Papua New Guinea side as they step up their buildup for their next important tournament in Hanoi.
Papua New Guinea is ranked 192nd by Fifa, but the side coached by New Zealander Wynton Rufer put up a spirited show against favored Singapore, 1-2, in a friendly last month.
The Azkals, who are hoping to finally nail the Suzuki Cup after back-to-back semifinal finishes, have been training under coach Thomas Dooley since Monday.
Malaysia was forced to cancel the match against the Azkals after officials decided to fast track the end of the Malaysian League that will pave the way for the early release of its players for Suzuki Cup preparations.
“What’s important is that we play more matches and peak in time for the Suzuki Cup,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.
A duel with Nepal on Oct. 31 in Doha, Qatar, has already been slated for the Azkals who are also eyeing another friendly with Malaysia, tentatively on Nov. 8 in Manila.
The Azkals are still looking to maximize the next international window with a couple of friendly matches from Nov. 10 to 18 just before they plunge into action in Vietnam.