Meet The Equally Tough Philippine Azkals

The Philippine Football on the rise...

(Updates: The Philippine Azkals trounced Mongolia 2-0 at the start of their 2 game home and away series at the jampacked Panaad Stadium, Bacolod City in the AFC Challenge Cup. The 1-2 combo of Jieffy Caligdong and Phil Younghusband provided the visiting Mongolians a tough time as both of them scored one goal a piece to pace the Azkals team of clinching a berth in the second round of the Cup where they are grouped with host Bangladesh, Palestine and Myanmar. The Philippine soccer team will meet Mongolia again on March 15, 2011, this time the game will be held at Ulan Bator. The Filipinos qualify in the next round if they either secure a win or a draw against the Mongolians. In case the Filipinos loses the game, the team with the greater points aggregate after 2 games will determine the winner of tie.) The Philippine national football team which is considered a minnow in the international competitions finally broke the juggernaut. The Philippine footballers which is also known as the Azkals (derived from the word “askal,” which is actually a breed of dog common to the country), flexed its muscle in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup.

The Philippine's goal keeper Neil Etheridge defending his ground against an opponent.
The Philippine's goal keeper Neil Etheridge defending his ground against an opponent. | Source

The feat of the Filipinos in the recent tournament they participated netted them the 10th best news story by Sports Illustrated.

Although they yielded to Indonesia twice by a similar score of 0-1, in the semifinal, the Filipinos made history and still earned accolades and recognition worldwide. Why? The Azkals, whose rank rose to 150th in December 2010, posted a stunning reversal at the expense of defending champion Vietnam in a Group B action in the quarterfinal round of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. The Philippine soccer team handed the Vietnamese side with a 2-0 shellacking, which propelled them into the semifinal meeting with the Indonesians, which topped Group A. The team also secured draws against Singapore and Myanmar earlier to finish the Group B with five points behind Vietnam which collected 6 points on the strength of its wins against Singapore and Myanmar. Indonesia and Malaysia which placed first and second in Group A, Vietnam and the Philippines complete the semifinal cast of the AFF Suzuki Cup. A win in the tournament is equivalent to three points, while 1 point is given for a draw and no point for a loss.

The Philippine team could have changed the outcome of their tie with the Indonesians if one of the games is played on its soil, no thanks to internal bickering back home. Still, the Azkals managed to earn various praises and recognitions worldwide, as their groundbreaking upset win over the highly favored Vietnam was voted as the 10th best by the Sports Illustrated, even besting several news made by high profile countries and various elite football clubs all over the world.

The Philippine national team which is also called the Azkals dons their away uniforms.
The Philippine national team which is also called the Azkals dons their away uniforms.

The Azkal's battle cry: "Never Say Die."

The Philippine team thrives on counterattacks to compensate for the not yet solid plays they have, since the team is still jelling and in the course of build up. The Azkals will be more formidable in the coming days as they are in stage of developing cohesion and fluidity, and still in the process of injecting creative and aggressive plays in their arsenal. The team’s defensive sentinels are also impressive and it shows with the close games they played against their various opponents thus far..

The team's other potent weapon is their heart and courage to win even in the dying minutes of the game. This is evident on their game against the Singaporeans and the Vietnamese where their "never say die," attitude, did wonders for the resilient and persistent Azkals.

The team can be likened to a mini United Nations as Filipinos with foreign blood worldwide are called to suit up for the country. The team boasts players such as brothers James and Phil Younghusband (both from United Kingdom, but now are unattached, James is a Midfielder while Phil plays the forward position and once played for Chelsea), Goal Keeper Neil Etheridge (Fulham, Scotland), Defenders Rob Gier (Ascot United, Scotland), Ray Jonnson (Grindavik, Iceland), Alexander Borromeo (Captain) and Midfielders Jason de Jong (Veendam, the Netherlands), Chieffy Caligdong and Chris Greatwitch (Morris Country Colonials, the United States), which forms the nucleus of the team. The team is under the watchful eyes of British coach Simon McMenemy.

What lies ahead?

With the strong showing of the Filipino soccer team in the recent tournament they took part, they are now setting their sights on bigger tournaments in 2011, as they are eyeing the South East Asian Games gold medal and hoping to perform well in the Asian qualifiers as they are pitted against Mongolia on February.

Comments 18 comments

samtenabray profile image

samtenabray 5 years ago from uk

I have a couple of Filipino friends and they will love to see this, but the AFC has become much more competitive with the inclusion of Australia and now with New Zealand are now pushing to be included.


Back next door 5 years ago

I created a page (P. Azkals)


liven 5 years ago

i love philippine azkals.........they are very fast .....


SpiffyD profile image

SpiffyD 5 years ago from The Caribbean

AFC has gotten much tougher with the inclusion of Australia. Realistically, they can only hope to make it to the final round of qualifying.


phlsportstoday 5 years ago

We must continue supporting our Philippne National Team, the Azkals win or lose.


luqaret 5 years ago

I really love philippine azkals. I'll support them all the way even if they lose the game over kuwait.


moiragallaga profile image

moiragallaga 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Nice hub! Just an update, the Azkals have made history again by passing through the first round of World Cup qualifying by defeating Sri Lanka 5-1 on aggregate. They drew 1-1 in Colombo but won 4-0 in the home match in front of 13,000 excited fans. We were there at the stadium and the atmosphere was fantastic!

We face Kuwait next this month. A much tougher opponent. But this is football, so anything can happen.


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 5 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines Author

Thanks gc already visited the dragon team of the phl


georgiecarlos profile image

georgiecarlos 5 years ago from Philippines

I remember going crazy about them and how supportive everyone was! Thanks for sharing!

p.s. Since this hub is about Filipinos and sports, maybe you would want to check the Philippine dragon boat team? :)


BJBenson profile image

BJBenson 5 years ago from USA

I love watching football. I miss being in Europe.I root for a lot of teams ,shame on me.


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 5 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines Author

@ cooper: welcome!


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 5 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines Author

Is it betty? thanks a lot for the kind words.


cooperfsu profile image

cooperfsu 5 years ago from Valencia, Spain

Thank you for the great hub!


bettybarnesb profile image

bettybarnesb 5 years ago from Bartlett, TN

Very beautiful hub. Enjoyed reading it. Be Blessed!


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 5 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines Author

The road to World Cup is tough and tedious, but I hope they will able to qualify by that time comes. Thanks for the visit.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for hub drawing our attention to this team. They are really have a good team work and very strong players. Hope you are making it to the next world cup. Certainly should do, you team deserves it.


GeneralHowitzer profile image

GeneralHowitzer 5 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines Author

It is indeed exciting I could've made this article many days ago but I was so busy then, but still so glad I made this. Thanks for the generous comments Donnacha I appreciate your kindness.


Donnacha C profile image

Donnacha C 5 years ago from Ennis, Co Clare, Republic of Ireland

what a great way to draw attention to Phillipine football. I admire your way of making this topic so exciting.

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