This match will also offer valuable insights about how far behind – or how close, if one wishes to stay positive – the Azkals are to the world’s footballing elite. It is the next international friendly about Azerbaijan in Dubai that tickles the imagination as it opens a whole new realm of possibilities for Philippine football.
It is stock knowledge to all and sundry that the Azkals are as yet too lightweight to take on Europe’s elite as some of our Asian neighbours now do on a regular basis. Azerbaijan, nonetheless, plays in UEFA; and this match makes a statement of both ambition and intent. The team, admittedly, is considered among Europe’s footballing minnows.
For starters, Azerbaijan, a former republic of the Soviet Union – is currently ranked 93rd in the FIFA World Men’s Rankings. The team is also coached by the legendary German Berti Vogts, who won a place in footballing folklore by man-marking the great Johan Cruyff out of the 1974 World Cup final to help West Germany win the championship.