Sunday, July 3, 2011

Philippines' Azkals blank Sri Lanka, march to World Cup 2nd round

THE Philippine National Football Men’s Team Azkals' dream to qualify in the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil lives on, as the nationals blanked the visiting Sri Lanka Brave Reds, 4-0 Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The Azkals’ victory gave them the ticket to the 2nd round of the World Cup qualifying tournament against Kuwait on July 23 and July 28 on a home and away game.

In Sunday’s win, Ilonggo Azkals midfielder Chieffy Caligdong nailed a goal in the 19th minute to open up the scoring for the nationals.

Drilling from the left side just inside the box and passing through two Sri Lankan defenders, Caligdong struck the ball towards the right of keeper Manjula Fernando. The ball hit the right bar before it entered the goal.

With 1-0 advantage, the Azkals picked up the tempo, as striker Phil Younghusband scored the squad’s second goal in the 43rd minute.

In the second half, striker Angel Guirado fired the team’s third goal in the 50th minute on a pass from James Youghusband. Guirado drilled past a Sri Lankan defender and escaped Fernando’s defense for an open goal.

After seven minutes, the Azkals got another goal opportunity when Stephan Schrock was fouled on the right side of the goal just inside the box. Phil Younghusband was tasked to take the penalty kick and he nailed the squad’s 4th goal in the 57th minute.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman and Philippine Football Federation (PFF) Advisory Council member Monico Puentevella lauded the Azkals’ performance. “Our Azkals’s performance yesterday was great,” he said.

“But it would be an uphill game against Kuwait. We will be underdogs but we have a bigger chance. We will have a bigger crowd, too,” Puentevella stressed.

On the other hand, sportsman Oscar ‘Dodong’ Bascon praised the Azkals’ game. “They did great on defense and, most especially, improved their offense. It is noticeably that the team played well. They slowly got the chemistry. We just hope they play much better in the next round,” said Bascon.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 04, 2011

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