Philippines Peace Cup Preview: Hosts expected to triumph while Chinese Taipei seeks resurrection

With previous tournament winners Hong Kong not participating in the competition, any of the four teams in this year's edition have the potential to claim a piece of silverware

In its third edition since its 2010 launch, the Peace Cup has become a much-anticipated event for the four nations involved in the race to the trophy.

Hong Kong claimed the 2010 and 2011 tournaments, but the two-time winners won't be taking part in the contest, meaning that all of the participants have a chance to make history when the competition kicks off on September 25.

SCHEDULE | 2012 Philippine Peace Cup
Sept 25
Chinese Taipei - Macau Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila
Sept 25
Philippines - Guam Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila
Sept 27
Chinese Taipei - Guam Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila
Sept 27
Philippines - Macau Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila
Sept 29
Macau - Guam Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila
Sept 29
Philippines - Chinese Taipei
Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila


As tournament hosts and one of most improved Asian nations in recent years, the Philippines are clearly the favourites to top the group.

The Azkals, currently ranked 150th by Fifa, will use the tournament as preparation of the upcoming Suzuki Cup, where they will face regional rivals Thailand, Vietnam and the winner of the qualification round in their group.

But despite the rapid ascent, the country has never lifted the Peace Cup trophy after finishing second and third respectively in the two previous editions won by Hong Kong. Coach Michael Weiss and his team could make the Peace Cup the first trophy won by the Philippines in their 99-year-long footballing history.

Player to Watch: Phillip Younghusband

The former Chelsea Academy man will be the main threat for  defenders and his presence is a boost to the Azkals' hopes to win the cup. As one of the most accomplished strikers in Southeast Asia, the 25-year-old will also aim to increase his already impressive record of 26 goals in 38 matches for the national team.


Chinese Taipei are potentially the only team with the quality to create some problems for the hosts.

The East Asian side came close to win the first edition of the tournament in 2010, when they finished runners-up with five points from three games and lost the crown after a hard-fought 1-1 draw with eventual winners Hong Kong.

Taiwan also shocked the continent by scaring Malaysia in the first round of 2014 World Cup qualifiers, when they were eliminated on the away goals rule after drawing 4-4 on aggregate.

Despite that promising performance, the team's form has slumped recently and their last competitive match was a 5-1 thumping by Hong Kong in February.

The Peace Cup represents an opportunity for Chinese Taipei to regain their confidence ahead of the next year's fixtures, including the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.

Player to Watch: Chen Po-liang

In the absence of star defender Xavier Chen, Shenzhen Ruby striker Chen Po-liang will lead his side as captain and as most talented player on the field. The 24-year-old won his contract with the China League One outfit after some stellar seasons in his homeland and will try to avenge his crucial penalty miss in the return leg against Malaysia.


Despite a reputation as one of the weakest teams of the world, the little island of Guam has found some glory in recent times and has a good chance to impress in their first Peace Cup showing.

The team has risen to 185th in the Fifa rankings after some impressive results in the last two years, including a 3-0 demolition of fellow participants Macau in East Asian Cup qualification and a 2-0 win over American Samoa in the Pacific Games, the nation's two biggest victories ever.

Coach Gary White's side is extremely young and the Englishman will surely use the tournament to introduce his players to international-level football.


Player to Watch: Jason Cunliffe

The 28-year-old striker is one of the few players from the island taking his abilities abroad, as he's signed with United Football League side Pachanga FC in the Philippines. With 9 goals from 15 international matches, his nose for the goal shouldn't be underestimated by opposing defenders, who will have to mark him closely to avoid an unexpected surprise.


Unlike other participants, Macau hope to return from the Peace Cup with at least a point; a mark they failed to reach in their last two appearances.

They'll enter with confidence after smashing the Northern Marianas Islands 5-1 in East Asian Cup qualifiers. Because that match wasn't classified as Fifa International 'A' fixture, Macau remains in 200th place in the world rankings.

With just that one win in their last fifteen matches, Macau are clearly the tournament underdogs.


Player to Watch: Chan Kin Seng

The 27-year-old striker is experienced enough at international level to provide a threat, alongside talented up-front partner Leong Ka Hang. Since debuting with the national team in 2006, Chan has scored 16 goals for Macau, including a score in one of Macau's best results ever, a 2-0 win over Mongolia in the 2010 Challenge Cup qualifiers.