Phl Azkals tame Mongolia
- Danny Dangcalan () - February 10, 2011 - 12:00am

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Fireworks erupted immediately after Phil Younghusband scored the second goal for the Philippines’ Azkals to end the game, 2-0, against the Mongolia Blue Wolves in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup qualifying playoff match at the Panaad Stadium here last night.

Younghusband’s lightning-quick goal came a few minutes before the game ends.

Football fans in the jampacked stadium, estimated to have a 20,000 seating capacity, yelled and cheered when Emelio “Chiffy” Caligdong sneaked in the first goal for the Philippine team in the first half of the contest.

Yellow caps and fans were thrown into the air for several minutes when Caligdong, who is from Barotac Viejo, Iloilo, broke the seemingly futile attempt of the Azkals to manage a goal.

Coach Hans Michael Weiss said the match was difficult and they should be more patient in their next match.

“We will improve more in our next performance,” team captain Aly Borromomeo said, who himself had a lot of missed goals.

The Mongolians proved to be a tough nut to crack in the eartly goings as their goalkeeper Ariunbold Batsaikhan foiled more than 10 attempts of the Azkals to throw in the ball.

The match further ignited the country’s interest in the football, which may well be considered the rebirth of the sport here.

After this, the Phl booters will travel to Mongolia on March 15 for the last game of their tie. Should they hurdle the Mongolians, the Azkals will take on Myanmar, Palestine and Bangladesh in the group stages, gunning for a victory and a berth to the tournament proper of the AFC Challenge Cup next year.

“Hopefully, a win over Mongolia will set the tone for this year’s campaign,” Azkals team manager Dan Palami said.

Mongolia coach Erdenebat Sandagdorj said they will try to do better when the playoff match continues in their hometown. He also scored the referee for giving one of their players a red card in the first half, which made them one less player during the first half.

He said this affected their performance.

For the whole game, two of their players got injured, and one of them was carried in stretcher by paramedics but managed to spring back and continued to play.

Earlier, Palami said the victory of the Azkals will be their gift to President Aquino who celebrated his birthday 51st birthday Feb 8.

“We’re at the crossroads. We have to answer the question whether 2010 was simply a fluke for the Azkals. We’ll be judged by this game. We can’t discount the fact that there are still some who feel we were just lucky. We have to prove to them that it was not just luck, it was hard work and total effort on the part of the team,” said Palami.

Now the Azkals have proven that it was not only pure luck but skills and discipline that made them win.

The Azkals is composed of Neil Etheridge, Aly Borromeo, Rob Gier, Ray Jonsson, Anton del Rosario, Roel Gener, Jason De Jong, James Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong, Ian Araneta, Phil Younghusband, Simon Greatwich, Nestorio Margarse, Eduard Sacapano, Mark Ferrer, Reymark Palmes, Kim Relucio, Jerry Barbaso, Patrick Hinrichsen, Peter Jaugan, Jason Sabio, Yanti Barsales, Joebel Bermejo.

The Azkals held a victory party at the L’Fisher Chalet last night to allow fans to savor the result of their glorious moment. (FREEMAN)

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