The Azkals have been done a great favor by the AFC. The matchdays of the Group E which consists of Brunei, Turkmenistan and Cambodia apart from the Philippines, have been shifted to 22nd-26th March from earlier 2nd-6th March schedule.
Co-incidentally, 22nd-26th March is also the FIFA matchdays. What this shift has ensured that the Azkals will be getting all of their top players spread around the globe to join the team for the qualifiers as the clubs are bound to release the players.
A half-strength Philippines team made it to the semis of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup recently only losing out to the eventual champions Singapore. They were playing without Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, Stephan Shrock, Dennis Cagara and Jerry Lucena.
The Azkal teams have taken their preparations seriously and have scheduled 2 friendly matches: one against Mayanmar in Yangon on 6th February and another on 10th February against Vietnam.
The Azkals finished a surprising 3rd in the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 competition and look the strongest in their qualifier group this time around.