July 3, 2011 Manila, Philippines - The starting 11 players of the Philippine Azkals, Neil Etheridge, Phil Younghusband, Anton Del Rosario, Matt Ott, Aly Borromeo, Chieffy Caligdong, Rob Gier, Mulders, Stephen Schrock, James Younghusband, and Angel Guirado proved to be unstoppable for the Sri Lanka Red Braves. The Azkals cruised to a 4-0 win against them a while ago. The match was held at the jam-packed Rizal Memorial Football field. Our performance in this 2nd leg match was way better compared to our performance in the 1st leg match which was held in Sri Lanka. The football field in Sri Lanka was worn out and the soil was hard that's why the ball didn't bounce in such a way that will help our players play well. Thankfully, our football field in the Rizal Memorial Stadium underwent an excellent renovation courtesy of the Philippine Sports Commission and other sponsors. As a result, the mad skills of our players re-surfaced in the game earlier.
Coming into the game, a 1-1 or 0-0 result would be enough for the Azkals to advance into the 2nd round of the Qualifiers to face Kuwait because if the score in this home game of the Azkals against the Red Braves is tied, the Philippine Azkals will still win because the away game is equivalent to 1.5 points. The Azkals however never settled for that scenario. They still pushed themselves to beat their opponent to the ground. They blew out the Red Braves as if they were making a strong statement that they want to be the best in the whole Asian Continent. A 4-0 win is indeed a strong statement. They held Sri Lanka scoreless in this match.
The Silent Assassin and the Iloilo native, Chieffy Caligdong made the first goal of the match. Just like in the first leg, he was also aggressive to score in this match. He continued to push and lo and behold, he was able to score a goal in the 19' mark of the match. He made his teammates happy and they felt rejuvenated after that goal. Their coach, Michael Weiss kissed him on the cheek after he made that first goal.
Phil Younghusband and Angel Guirado soon made their own respective goals. Phil scored the second goal for the Azkals just before the first half ended. It gave them a more comfortable 2-0 lead. The assistant official initially ruled that Phil pushed his defender before the goal but it was over ruled by the senior referee and so the goal was counted.
Angel Guirado, the long haired Fil-Spanish Midfielder, on the other hand got his goal in the 50' mark of the match out of James Younhusband's beautiful advanced pass. Guirado took it upon himself to play well this time because of his poor performance in the first leg.
The fourth goal of the Azkals was also made by Phil Younghusband in the 56' mark of the match. It was from an excellent free kick. He was fresh from his hamstring injury but despite that he still played well in this match. He was probably playing inspired in this match because his sweetheart Angel Locsin was in the stands showing her support for him.
The Azkals gracefully advance to the next round against Kuwait. The first leg will be on July 23 and the second leg will be on July 28.
We can never really tell how far will the Azkals go in their quest to qualify in the 2014 World Cup, but one thing is certain, anything can happen especially with the huge crowd support from the Kaholeros and with the overflowing support that the Azkals are getting from the Philippine Sports Commission.
The only sad part in this game was that captain Aly Borromeo and Stephan Shrock will have to miss the first leg of their 2nd round match against Kuwait as each of them got two yellow cards. But let's just hope that the reserve players will be able to fill in the void that they will leave against Kuwait.
For now, let's just savor this victory of ours. Here are the highlights of the game from YouTube.