NBA
Philippine football century-old quest
Lito Tacujan (The Philippine Star) - May 31, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After its gut-wrenching run the past two weeks in Male, Maldives, the nation is now within a heartbeat of ending an interminable wait of 100 years .

True, it’s 100 years. And a victory by the intrepid Azkals (ongoing at presstime) over the Palestinians side in the finals of the AFC Challenge Cup among “emerging forces” in continental football would serve as a balm for long suffering Filipino fans.

They have waited for a century for this one brief shining moment since the country’s lone major feat on Asian level – its triumph over China for the gold medal in the 1913 Far Eastern Games.

The Filipinos wouldn’t figure prominently in the next FE Games in 1915 in Shanghai (won by China), 1917 in Tokyo (China), 1919 in Manila (China), 1921 in Shanghai (China), 1923 in Osaka (China), 1925 in Manila (China), 1927 in Shanghai (China) and 1930 in Tokyo (China, Japan).

It would be a contender in the early staging of the Asian Games beginning on the second Asiad in 1954 in Manila until it faded from the quadrennial Games in the early 60s.

The Filipinos would have snatches of brilliance, particularly in the regional meet, the most notable was the one-to-nil shocker they dealt the Malaysians on Norman Fegidero’s  goal in the 1991 Manila SEA Games. The powerhouse Malaysians never recovered from the trauma and missed the semifinals while the Filipinos finished fourth.

Then came an aggressive development scheme undertaken by the Philippine Football Federation, recruiting European booters with Filipino roots and thus the wild pack of Azkals came to being, making their mark in the Suzuki Cup and other tournaments under the aegis of the AFC.

They have one international championship to show, the 2012 Peace Cup they won before cheering home crowd but that’s a four-team regional tourney.

Now the Azkals are going for the AFC Challenge Cup crown against Palestine.

A victory will not only give them a place in the elite Asian Cup next year in Sydney but finally end its long journey through the mist of time – from 1913 to 2014, a century old quest.

(Notes: The members of the Philippine team to the 1913 FE Games were Henry Doland, W. Doland, F. Elizaga, Angel Garchitorena, Damaso Garcia, Rafael Iboleon, J. Llamas, Enrique Lopez, Joaquin Lopez and Joaquin Loyzaga.)

ANGEL GARCHITORENA ASIAN CUP ASIAN GAMES AZKALS CHALLENGE CUP CHINA DAMASO GARCIA ENRIQUE LOPEZ FAR EASTERN GAMES HENRY DOLAND
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