The Philippines has been drawn with four-time champions Thailand and Singapore in Group A of the AFF Suzuki Cup kicking off Nov. 19 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Joining the three teams in the group is Indonesia, whose suspension from international football was lifted by the International Football Federation (Fifa) early this year.
The three countries – Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia – are actually the opponents of the Azkals in their three semifinal appearances in the biennial tournament.
The Azkals open their campaign against Singapore on Nov. 19, before taking on Indonesia three days later. The Thais will be the Azkals’ last assignment in the group stage on Nov. 25.
The Thais are the only Southeast Asian team to qualify in the final round of FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
They extended their dominance of the Azkals in the semifinals two years ago with a 3-0 aggregate win, before toppling Malaysia in the finals to match Singapore’s title haul.
Singapore last lifted the trophy in 2012 when it beat the Azkals, 1-0, on aggregate in the semifinals, before overcoming Thailand in the title match.
Indonesia beat the Philippines, 2-0, on aggregate in Jakarta in 2010, the year when the Azkals rose to prominence. But the Azkals came away with a 4-0 drubbing of the Indons in the group stage of the 2014 tournament in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Making up Group B that will be hosted by Myanmar are Vietnam, Malaysia and the winner of the qualifying tournament that will be hosted by Cambodia in October.