The Azkals team manager insisted that they are no longer considered a surprise package in South-East Asia's major tournament, which kicks off in November in Malaysia and ThailandPhilippines team manager Dan Palami has claimed that his side will not go into the 2012 AFF Cup as underdogs.
The Azkals' remarkable performance in 2010, which saw them go undefeated in the group stage on the way to a semi-final loss to Indonesia, has given them enough credit to ensure an automatic qualification into this edition's final stage.
"We are not coming in as a surprise team anymore. We are coming in as one of the favourites," Palami told the competition's official site.
Regarding their chance in a Group A that will also include Thailand and Vietnam in addition to the winner of the qualification round, Palami stated that his team will be ready, despite wishing that the draw had played out differently.
"If we want to win, we have to beat the strongest teams. That is the only way to go about it," he said.
Philippines have been scheduled to face the host Thailand in their opening match on November 24 at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.