AZKALS Make Their Mark In Philippine Football History

At last!

After so many years of rooting for Los Blancos (and recently, FC Schalke 04 becoz of Raul) and by default to Spain, I can now support my own team, the Azkals, our very own Philippine National Football Team.

We were watching the game last Sunday inside my sister’s bedroom since I do not have a TV inside mine, and though the TV in the living room is bigger, it seemed more natural (and excitingly noisy) to watch together. So one can only imagine how crowded it was with 4 adults and 5 children ranging from ages 6 to 13 and all of us shouting, getting all excited, and giving their own versions to some of the moves. Since I started watching late coz I had to finish something I thought the Azkals were wearing their home team uniforms which is the white so I was lost for a few seconds. I know that they wore the blue soccer kit in Sri Lanka because that is their away team uniforms. My son was teasing me that it was okay for me to cheer for the white team if I really wanted to but then I wouldn’t be cheering for Aly then, he knows who my favorite is among the Azkals.

My sister is new on football and so she really doesn’t know the game and the players. So aside from asking what goes on she has to ask who the players are every time the player is captured on cam. So from her hubby down to the kids they have to give the names. The funny thing is that at first it was just me and my son who could recognize the players at the end of the game, even the other kids knew one from the other. My sister definitely knows one player even when it is not a close-up shot, and that player is none other than Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong.

Yes, Chieffy may not be as handsome as Phil or James Younghusband, as big as skipper Aly Borromeo or Angel Guirado, dramatic as Stephan Schrock but he is definitely the local hero of Azkals. It was his first goal in the 19th minute of the opening half, amidst the torrential downpour, that set the tone for the game. And from then on a goal came from Phil on the 43rd minute to make it 2-0, and then on the 56th minute Angel Guirado made a beautiful goal to make it 3-0. I say beautiful because it was poetry in motion from the pass that James Younghusband made to midfielder Angel where he had to evade Sri Lankan goalkeeper Fernando in something like a feint to make the goal. Though I find it really funny that again, just like when they played against Blue Wolves, I did not see Chieffy make the goal. As usual, I was in the bathroom, doing my thing, when the people inside the room shouted as one…and I almost slipped so I could hurry out. And the kids were urging me to go out every now and then, as if the Azkals didn’t want me to see them making the goal, duh!

There might be names that stand out but each member of the team is worthy of an accolade. They each played their role and made beautiful music together. Defender Stephan Schrock, Midfielders James Younghusband, Paul Mulders and Manuel Ott’s footwork is wondrous to watch, the way they dribble, and keep the ball in their possession, and make a pass is unbelievable. Also noteworthy are the different moves that skipper Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario and Rob Gier did to ensure their defense, they sure didn’t let up and so Sri Lanka was able to make only 2 goal attempts. Neil Etheridge made sure no goal attempt by the Sri Lanka Brave Reds gave them a score. I had to emphasize this though, that although each one has their particular role in the game, team work is still essential in the game. And compared to the first game, the Azkals have found a way that they can help each other out; found a way to complement each other, so that they can make their contribution and mark in the Philippine football history.

And to their detractors, they proved they are not just handsome faces, they are real football players.

This last portion is for my sister:

No.

Pos.

Player

DoB/Age

Club

1

GK

Neil Etheridge

7 February 1990 (age 21)

Fulham

22

GK

Eduard Sacapaño

14 February 1980 (age 31)

Philippine Army

2

DF

Rob Gier

6 January 1980 (age 31)

Ascot United

3

DF

Jason Sabio

30 June 1986 (age 25)

Rocket City United

4

DF

Anton del Rosario

23 December 1981 (age 29)

KAYA FC

11

DF

Alexander Borromeo (captain)

29 June 1983 (age 28)

KAYA FC

17

DF

Stephan Schröck

21 August 1986 (age 24)

Greuther Fürth

6

MF

Roel Gener

27 June 1974 (age 37)

Philippine Army

7

MF

James Younghusband

4 September 1986 (age 24)

San Beda

8

MF

Manuel Ott

6 May 1992 (age 19)

Ingolstadt 04 II

9

MF

Paul Mulders

16 January 1981 (age 30)

ADO Den Haag

12

MF

Ángel Guirado

9 December 1984 (age 26)

Ronda

13

MF

Emelio Caligdong

8 September 1982 (age 28)

Philippine Air Force

15

MF

Ricardo Becite

13 April 1986 (age 25)

Philippine Army

19

MF

Nestorio Margarse

3 May 1976 (age 35)

Philippine Army

10

FW

Phil Younghusband

4 August 1987 (age 23)

San Beda

14

FW

Misagh Bahadoran

10 January 1987 (age 24)

Global

18

FW

Nate Burkey

7 January 1985 (age 26)

KAYA FC

23

FW

Ian Araneta

2 March 1982 (age 29)

Philippine Air Force


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