There really is no place like home.
Coming back to Philippine soil, the Philippine Azkals fiercely trampled the Sri Lankan Brave Reds with a convincing 4-0 win in the first leg of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier games held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The ever dependable veteran Chieffy Caligdong and Phil Younghusband each scored goals during the first half, giving the Philippines an insurmountable 2-0 lead over the Brave Reds. With no intention of letting up, Angel Aldeguer scored another goal off a James Younghusband pass just a few minutes into the second half. Phil, six minutes later, scored a penalty kick. He was later on brought to the hospital for severe cramps.
Coach Michael Weiss said that being back home helped our football players a lot, especially with being accustomed to the climate , weather, and other factors and conditions of the country. He said that the team is now setting their eyes to meeting Kuwait, and eventually prove themselves worthy of being counted among the great football elites of today.
Never in football history has the Philippine Team gone any farther than first round losses every time they tried out for the World Cup. This time, however, things are showing up very differently for the Azkals, who are set the 48-seed Team Kuwait on July 23.
The Philippine Azkals had a dozen close calls to get away with a win in Sri Lanka, but as time expired, the team can only settle for a draw.
Our very own Philippine Football team managed to negate a first half goal by the Sri Lankan team, with the ever-sturdy Chieffy Caligdong hitting the goal just a few minutes into the second half. But just like the black birds who chilled out on the football lawn, it seemed everything went cold for both teams, who also had a lot of physicality against each other. Yellow cards were being slapped one after another just in the first half. Seems to indicate how tight the game was.
In the end, the Azkals are coming home with an away goal advantage to finally seal the deal here in Manila on Sunday, July 3.
A win here will pit the Azkals against Kuwait, which stands at number 48 in the world rankings.
True to their team name, the Azkals fought like unleashed bloodhounds and prevailed.
The Philippine Azkals made up for their two dismal outings with a convincing 3-0 win over the favored team Bangladesh to advance to the next round of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. Angel Guirado delivered two crushing goals after Ian Araneta made the first one, to pull away from the heavily-favored team of Bangladesh and make the cut for the next phase.
Cornered with their backs against the wall, after coming up with two draws against Myanmar (1-1) and Palestine (0-0), the Azkals unleashed their arsenal of high-octane goals en route to an upset of the more experienced and veteran team.
The win places the Philippine team at second place in their bracket, qualifying them to move to the final round, where all the top two qualifying teams will face off.
The Philippine Azkals ended up with a goal-less draw versus Palestine in the second round of AFC Challenge Cup qualifier for 2012.
None among the Philippine Football Team was able to maneuver their way to scoring a point in their second game since advancing to the single round robin eliminations’ phase of the tournament. The draw was the second in as many games this week, the first being the 1-1 outcome in their fight against Myanmar last Monday. Goal keeper Neil Etheridge failed to intercept the ball from a free kick carried out by Myanmar in the final two minutes of the game.
Now with two draws, the Azkals have their backs against the wall, desperately needing a convincing win against Bangladesh this Friday. The Philippines must win over Bangladesh to qualify as one of the two from Group A to advance. Losing will automatically eliminate them out of the tournament. Even still, the fate of the Azkals are not entirely in their hands, as they will also have to await the result of the game between Myanmar and Palestine. Nonetheless, the Azkals need to win to keep their hopes of qualifying for the final leg.
As of this writing, India, Maldives and Turkmenistan have qualified already for the last phase of the tournament.
A goal in the first half by the Philippine Azkals gave them a one-point aggregate margin over the Mongolian Blue Wolves to win with a home-and-away score 3-2 in the first round of the AFC Challenge Cup 2011.
James Younghusband delivered the crushing goal in the first half of the away game for the Azkals, who had to endure not just the harsh climate of Mongolia, but even the aftershock of having been trapped in tsunami-battered Japan. The Philippine Football Team was stranded in Japan during the tsunami tragedy there last week, experiencing aftershocks that have somewhat offset the condition of the team days before facing Mongolia in their own home court. The team also missed the services of goal guardian Neil Etheridge, who played a crucial defensive role when they won over the Mongolian team last February 8, at the Panaad Sports Stadium in Bacolod, with a commanding lead of 2-0.
The Blue Wolves waged a second half rally by scoring two goals within 15 minutes into the first half. But while the crowd had mistakenly thought their home favorite had won, the truth was sinking painfully in the hearts of the players, who missed the chance of tying the game at 3 during the final 30 minutes of the game.
The win gives the Philippine Team the chance advance to the next stage where Myanmar, Bangladesh and Palestine will be waiting for them, and bolster their chances to improve their standings in the world rankings.