Qualification history
Despite being of Asia’s oldest national teams (founded in 1913), the Philippines have a surprisingly brief FIFA World Cup™ history. Their first outing was a France 1998 qualifier when they ultimately lost all three of their matches, while in the ensuing campaign they collected just one point - a 1-1 draw at home to Laos - from a possible 18. They did not attempt to qualify for Germany 2006 or South Africa 2010. The Azkals got their campaign for Brazil 2014 off to a promising start thrashing Sri Lanka 5-1 on aggregate, only to crash out against Kuwait by an identical aggregate scoreline in the next round.

The team
The Philippines have greatly increased their status over the past five years under firstly German Michael Weiss, and more recently Thomas Dooley. The squad’s depth and quality has increased with an influx of new players with Filipino roots, among them German-raised Stephan Schrock, and English-born brothers Phil and James Younghusband.

The coach
Thomas Dooley, USA’s skipper at the 1994 World Cup on home soil, assumed the reins in early 2014 promising to deliver a high-tempo short-passing game and greater depth among the Azkals squad. Under Dooley, the side narrowly failed to collect their first silverware of the modern era when they lost against Palestine in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup final.

The stat
13
– Philippines had only played 13 World Cup qualifying matches across three editions prior to their Russia 2018 campaign.

The former stars
Paulino Alcantara, Freddy Gonzalez