2012 Suzuki Cup: Azkals through the semis again after beating Myanmar

1 12 2012

Supachalasai Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand– For the first time in history, the Philippines defeated SouthEast Asian neighbors Myanmar in an official football game.  The 2-0 victory also meant that the 2010 semifinal participation of the Philippine Azkals was not a fluke as they are once again in the Final 4 of Southeast Asia’s premier football tournament.

Phil Younghusband was very aggressive right at the get-go. His efforts to break a scoring slump were eventually rewarded at the start of the second half when he received a pass from Jason de Jong and evaded two defenders for his first goal in this year’s Suzuki Cup.  Angel Guirado added the nail in the coffin in stoppage time as he clinically converted a long ball to bring the Philippines back to the semifinals.  Goalkeeper Ed Sacapano was once again credited with a clean sheet just like the previous game against Vietnam.

With the victory, the Azkals finished the group phase with 6 points owing to its win over Vietnam and Myanmar.  Their lone tormentor Thailand won the group by sweeping all its matches at their home turf.

In 2010 when the Philippines were not allowed to host their home leg of the semifinals because the country did not have a stadium that met FIFA standards.  In this year’s edition however, Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila is booked on December 8 for the match between the Azkals and top qualifier from the other group.  It is expected that Filipino fans will flock to the legendary venue as the Azkals go for a historic final appearance.  Details on tickets for the match will be announced very soon.


2012 Singapore Cup quarterfinals first leg: Loyola Meralco Sparks beat Kanbawza FC 3-1

5 07 2012

Sparks wins 3-1 in their Singapore Cup QF first leg (photo from interaksyon.com)

Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore – After a disappointing 3rd place finish in the United Football League (UFL), the Loyola Meralco Sparks somehow vented their frustrations to Myanmar‘s Kanbawza FC  and beat them 3-1, in the first leg of their quarterfinal pairing of the 2012 Singapore Cup.  The Sparks survived a very physical match against a tough Myanmar side who were reduced to nine players by the end of 90 minutes after Hia Aye Htwe and Kyaw Zayar Win earned cards from vicious fouls.

Philippine Azkal regular Phil Younghusband opened the scoring for the Loyola 11 by scoring from a great cross by South Korean Jeong Byeong-yeol in the 15th minute. Kanbawza FC then suffered a major blow early in the game when starting goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet  have to be substituted by Yawai Zin after getting injured trying to stop the Sparks first score.

Kanbawza FC were hard-pressed to equalize and they were the more aggressive side in the first half.  In the 33rd minute striker Soe Min Oo had a good attempt at the goal but he was called offside. In the 41st minute, Kyaw Zayar Win got his first yellow card after being booked for diving inside the penalty area. With calls not going their way, the Myanmar side grew very frustrated and it led to a red card to Hia Aye Htwe who got tangled with James Younghusband just before the halftime whistle.

Despite playing with just ten men, it was the Myanmar 11 who first had a serious attempt in the final half as Soe Min Oo had another attempt but was cleared by Andres Gonzales just a few minutes at the start of the new half.  Matthew Hartmann, however, doubled the lead of Meralco in the 66th minute by finishing an elegant cross from the left by Phil Younghusband. Three minutes later, Kanbawza FC were down to 9 men after Kyaw Zayar Win earned another yellow card after a foul on Park Min-ho.  Kanbawza though refused to give up without a fight as they scored in the 75th minute when national team striker Soe Min Oo connected with Brazilian Tercio Machado.

The Younghusbands though, combined to give an insurance goal for the Philippine side in injury time.  James Younghusband scored from an impressive one-two with brother Phil giving the Loyola Meralco Sparks a formidable lead going to their second leg match on Sunday.

UFL 2011-2012 Awards

27 06 2012

The championship and the major awards for the 2011-12 season of the United Football League has been decided. Here are this year’s major awardees:

Division I:

Champion: Global FC

Runner-up: Kaya FC

3rd place: Loyola Meralco Sparks

Golden Ball: Carli De Murga, Global FC

Golden Boot: Phil Younghusband, Loyola Meralco Sparks 23 goals

Golden Glove: Saba Garmaroudi, Kaya FC

Fair Play Award: Global FC

Division II:

Champion: Pachanga FC

Runner-up: Diliman Victory Liner FC

3rd Place: Cebu Queen City United FC

Golden Ball: Alfredo “Freddy” Gonzales, Pachanga FC

Golden Boot: Freddy Gonzales, Pachanga FC 34 goals

Golden Glove: Kenneth Dolloso

Fair Play Award: Manila-All Japan

2012 AFC Challenge Cup: Philippines beats Palestine 4-3 in the battle for 3rd

20 03 2012

Playing without star keeper Neil Etheridge, the Azkals scored enough goals to survive and win against the Al Fursan despite conceding 3 goals. Etheridge was suspended in the 3rd place match after getting a red card in the Philippine‘s heartbreaking semifinal loss to Turkmenistan. In for the Fullham goalkeeper is Philippine Army‘s Eduard Sacapaño. Sacapaño made enough saves to help Philippines win the high scoring match.

Phil Younghusband had a brace to up his total to six goals in tournament. He was awarded the golden booth after the tournament. The goal scores for the Philippines were the Guirado brothers. Angel Guirado scored his second goal in the tournament for a 3-1 lead at the half. Brother Juan Luis scored his first ever as an Azkal in the second half. Juan Luis’ goal turned to be the game winner.

Abdulhamid had 2 goals for Palestine. The third goal of Al Fursan was courtesy of Fahed attal in the 78th minute.

The third place finish in the AFC Challenge Cup is  big achievement for the Philippines where football lags in popularity to basketball and boxing. The good finish in this recent tournament will surely improve the country’s standings in the FIFA World Rankings where it is ranked 155th.

Azkals Celebrate (from goalnepal.com)

Azkals book a semis seat at the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup

13 03 2012
AFC Challenge Cup

Image via Wikipedia

Nepal- The Philippine men‘s national football team popularly known as the Azkals lived to its billing as one of the most improved football national teams in the world by booking a semifinal slot in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup by beating former Challenge Cup champs Tajikistan, 2-1. The Philippines finished second in their group after winning against India (2-0) and Tajikistan days after dropping a tough 0-2 match against holders North Korea. Their group was considered the group of death with the Azkals bunched with 3 former AFC Challenge Cup champions.

The Azkals sing the national anthem

The Azkals sing the national anthem before the match (via Goalnepal.com)

The Azkals were controlling the game but conceded a goal before halftime. In the 2nd half, it was the same story but the Philippines were successful in two of its chances. Filipino-Spanish Angel Guirado was the star for the Philippines as he fired a perfect cross to Phil Younghusband in the 54th minute. Guirado’s industrious effort led to the 3rd goal of Younghusband in the tournament.  Guirado pressed hard to steal the ball in the left flank before passing it to the wide open striker.

The game-winner came at the 79th minute as Guirado towered everyone for a fine header of a Phil Younghusband pass. It was marvelous game for Guirado who seems not so affected by the controversy that he is facing. Guirado and teammate Lexton Moy has a standing sexual harassment complaint from former Philippine Olympic Committee president Cristy Ramos.

Coach Michael Weiss was ecstatic with a victory. He declared that “This is a historic day! We have actually been making history throughout the tournament but that is not comparable to today,” He added “I am moved. I am honoured and proud to be coach of this team.”

It is great day indeed for the Azkals but their job is not finished yet. The Azkals will face Turkmenistan for a slot in the finals. Palestine and North Korea will dispute the other slot. The winner of the tournament will get a spot at the prestigious AFC Asian Cup.

Angel Guirado, Man of the Match

The Man of the Match Angel Guirado (photo from goalnepal.com)

caloycomment: Angel Guirado is in the center of attention again and this time, it is for good reason … MORE

Philippine Azkals blank Nepal 4-0 in friendly match

12 10 2011

Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila – The 166th ranked Philippines played a friendly with the 135th ranked Nepal yesterday. The home side gave the visitors a rude welcome as the Azkals blanked the Gorkhalis 4-0. The game marked the local debut of some of the newest recruits by the Azkals.

The first half was marked by goals by the Younghusband brothers. Phil Younghusband struck fist in the 17th minute as he made good move to outwit Nepalese goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu. In the 28th minute, brother James scored his 7th international goal via a fine strike just aside the area. The Philippines had a comfortable 2-nil by halftime.

In the second half, new acquisition Dennis Cagara showed why he is one of the most highly touted Filipino midfield prospects as he set the table for the Azkal goals in the second half. His technique is evident as he sent a fine cross to Phil Younghusband in the 55th minute. Younghusband completed his brace by shooting the ball away from the diving Limbu. The Cagara-Younghusband combination figured well in another goal before the end of the game. Cagara made another superb cross to Younghusband in 89th minute. Younghusband then set-up fellow Filipino-British Matthew Hartmann for his first international goal.

The Man of the Match was clearly Phil Younghusband who dedicated the game to his late mother Susan who passed away a month ago.


Long Teng Cup: Azkals draw with HK 3-3

30 09 2011
Meet and Greet the Azkals Team

Image by budiputra via Flickr

The 2011 Long Teng Cup is underway and the first game is between the Philippine Azkals and the 2010 Champs Hong Kong. the Azkals played without regulars Stephan Schrock, Neil Etheridge and Paul Mulders.

HK struck twice in the first 22 minutes as Lee Wai Lim scored on the 2nd minute and Cheng Lai Hin headed a goal in the 22nd minute for an early 2-0 lead. The Philippines woke up and answered via a Phil Younghusband goal in 31st minute. The Azkals equalized just before halftime as Younghusband found diminutive Chieffy Caligdong for a left-footed finish.

The Azkals struck first in the 2nd half as Caligdong received a pass from James Younghusband, beat 2 defenders then struck hard to beat Hung Fai Yapp in the  62nd minute for his second score. It was the first lead by the Philippines and they held it for 25 minutes before  Roland Muller conceded the equalizer from Cheng Lai Hin off a Chan Siu Ki free kick.  The game ended 3-3.

It was a physical match as Wai Chiu Ng, Jason de Jong, and Kwok Pin Pong getting sent off the match. The result was better than last year’s outcome when the Azkals fell to Hong Kong Under-23, 2-4. Coach Michael Weiss was all praises for co-captain Chieffy Caligdong and he believed that the outcome would have been better had he not left the game on 78th minute after suffering a knee injury. The other teams in the 4-nation cup are Chinese-Taipei and Macau.