On the 10th anniversary of Azkals' historic win over Mongolia
February 9, 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of the Philippine men's football team's 2-0 win over Mongolia at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.

On the 10th anniversary of Azkals' historic win over Mongolia

Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - February 10, 2021 - 1:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — Yesterday, February 9, was the 10th anniversary of the Philippine men’s football team’s huge 2-0 win over Mongolia in the first stage of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup at  the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.

Fresh off their stirring 2010 Suzuki Cup stint where they reached the semifinals for the first time, the Nationals showed they were no one-trick pony as Azkals mania was in full swing after that win over the Blue Wolves, as the Mongolian team is nicknamed.

Chieffy Caligdong scored one of the Philippines’ best-ever goals on the international stage when he used his chest to control a cross from the right wing by teammate Anton del Rosario. 

Following his control of the ball, Caligdong ditched his defender with a sidestep then nutmegged Mongolian goalkeeper Ganbayar Tseveensuren for that 43rd minute goal.

Caligdong said during that time, "Naka-focus sila masyado kay Phil (Younghusband) kaya nabigyan kami ng chances na makatulong. Masaya naman naka-goal. Lalo na home crowd natin. Para sa bayan ‘to.”

Younghusband was physically marked all match long by Mongolia’s Ochbayar Olzvoi — a tactic that opponents would use time and again in dealing with the Philippines’ top striker.

Phil got his richly deserved goal when he received a pass from then Azkals debutant Jason Sabio in the 68th minute that gave the Philippines a much-needed cushion to weather Mongolia’s last ditch efforts.

In his post-match statement, Mongolia coach, Erdenabat Sanadagdorj promised his team would prepare and aim for a win by three goals. 

Mongolia nearly accomplished that, but an early goal by James Younghusband in Ulan Bataar — in the Blue Wolves’ March 15 home match — sent the Philippines to the next round despite the 2-1 loss in bone-chilling game conditions.

“Masaya yun time na yun kasi ang daming supporters,” Caligdong told this writer from his new home in Canada. “Isa yun sa importante na game para sa akin at sa Azkals. At importante rin yun para sa akin kasi nabigyan ako ng break ng Gatorade.”

Caligdong was referring to him being chosen as a brand ambassador for Gatorade in January that year.

Following the match, Azkals defender Roel Gener, who had an impressive showing in the 2010 Suzuki Cup and in the match against Mongolia, famously picked up a Philippine flag, which he carried in a victory lap around the Panaad Stadium to a roaring crowd. 

Described Gener of the atmosphere, “Unang una, dahil sa home soil natin yung venue, at sa support ng mga kababayan natin at ang mga mahal sa buhay, lalo ng yung Armed Forces of the Philippines, doon ko nakita na mananalo ang team. Nasunod yung game plan. Lahat nagtulungan sa loob ng field at gumana ang lahat. Yung pagbitbit at wagayway ko ng bandila tanda ng pasasalamat at paghanga sa pagkaisa ng bawat Pilipino lalong lalo na ako ay isang sundalo sa hukbong katihan ng Pilipinas.”

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