Azkals made history after 2-1 win over Tajikistan
For the Azkals fans today was another day to remember. We can definitely say that a new era has begun.
The Philippines made history today after they celebrated their progress to the next stage of the AFC Challenge Cup with a crucial 2-1 win over Tajikistan thanks to goals from Phil Younghusband and Angel Guirado. This is the first time in history that the Azkals have overcome the first round of the competition, proving once again how far the country has developed in recent times. But the best is yet to come, and the 2015 Asian Cup is not too far away.
In the semifinal they’ll be facing Turkmenistan, a team that has showed an impressive form so far, winning all the encounters conceding just a goal, in the first match against the Maldives. But for this Azkals side the Green Men are all but a beatable opponent, despite they were demolished 5-0 when the teams last met in 2009.
But things could have gone even better for the Azkals, because the team they’ve sent to Nepal, the host country of the Challenge Cup, is not the best available for their coach Michael Weiss. Infact there’s a huge number of half-Filipino players currently playing at decent level in Europe, but many of them weren’t allowed to leave for Nepal by their clubs, and others have not decided which country they should represent at international level yet.
This is the formation that German coach Michael Weiss could field against Turkmenistan, and in the eventual final:
Martinez Sabio Gier Cagara
J.Younghusband Mulders J.Guirado A.Guirado
But in the best of the hypothesis, Weiss could line up a team such as this:
Schrock Lucena Woodland Cagara
J.Younghusband Mulders Reed A.Guirado
Here the additions of the second squad:
Stefan Schrock (1986) – right back/ right midfielder playing for Greuther Furth, leaders of the 2.Bundesliga. Current Azkal
Jerry Lucena (1980) – centre back/ holding midfielder playing for AGF Aarhus in the Danish Superliga. Current Azkal
Luke Woodland (1995) – extremely promising centre back playing for Bolton Wanderers Reserves and England national u18 team. Not called up yet
Adam Reed (1991) – central midfielder currently playing for Leyton Orient on loan from Sunderland. Not called up yet
Iain Ramsay (1988) – left winger/ second striker playing for Adelaide United in the A-League. Not called up yet
This second team is clearly much stronger than the first, and it won’t be a dream for Azkals fans to see them all together fighting for the pride of the country one day. There could be another star, Jonathan de Guzman, but the Villareal midfielder seems more likely to choose Canada over the Philippines.
Surely, it could have been much easier to fight North Korea, by far the strongest team of the competition, with so many Europe-based players. But the current Azkals team has already players with great and respectable skills, and it’s not impossible for them to win the trophy. Just look at what India did in 2008, or Tajikistan in 2006.
The masterpiece would be even bigger. And all the Azkals’ fans must believe in their side, they can make it.
By Christian Rizzitelli