By JONAS TERRADO
The Philippine Azkals were again put in a so-called “Group of Death” after being bracketed with regional powerhouses South Korea and China for their maiden appearance in the Asian Cup slated January in the United Arab Emirates.
Joining them in Group C is fellow debutant Kyrgyzstan after brackets were determined in a draw held Friday in Dubai.
South Korea, runners-up in 2015 and a regular World Cup campaigner, and China are expected to give the Azkals plenty of problems while Kyrgyzstan is also hungry to make a good impression after making the Asian Cup for the first time.
The top two teams qualify for the knockout stage while the third placer may advance if it finishes as one of the four best teams with similar placings from the six groups.
Held every four years, the Asian Cup will start on Jan. 5 with matches to be held in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah.
The tough draw came two days after the Azkals were placed in Group B of the AFF Suzuki Cup alongside defending champion Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and winner of the qualification round playoff between Timor Leste and Brunei.
The Suzuki Cup is set Nov. 8 under a home-and-away format.
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