While most think of Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia when they think of Southeast Asian footballing powers, The Azkals of the Philippines have emerged as one of the region’s elite teams after achieving a third straight semifinal appearance in the AFF Suzuki Cup since 2010.
Football Channel Asia contributor Eric Noveanto sat down with Filipino superstar Phil Younghusband during the group stage to talk about Asian football and the sport’s development in his native homeland.
What do you think about Southeast Asia’s football development?
Asian football, and particularly Southeast Asian football is constantly growing in term of quality, including the Philippines. Many professional players from Europe have started to come here. It’s a clear indication that our football is developing.
Who is the best Southeast Asian player you have met?
I think it’s quite hard to point out names from many great players. But looking at different teams, I think Thailand and Vietnam could be considered the best. They often play very well as a team; I believe they each have two or three standout players and whenever they play as a team they’re hard to beat.
Will you consider moving abroad to somewhere else in Asia in the future?
Family is in my priority and at the moment I can’t leave them for a few reasons reasons. But in the future we will see, especially if there are some interesting offers.
You’ve set a milestone with 42 goals for the Azkals; what’s next?
After reaching that milestone, of course I want to achieve more. I’m still 27 years old and maybe I can play for Philippines for seven or eight more years, as long as possible.