This article was written by our top contributor Mr. Bill Christian Pacatang
Al-Azraq Kuwait Football Team ended the dream Of the Azkals to qualify in the 2014 World Cup. Our dream to qualify in 2014 FIFA World Cup was ended by the Kuwait Al-Azraq in the 2nd Round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. But this is not the end of the Journey. We're just getting started. One thing is for sure as what was shown in last night's match, the Philippines is now a developing sport in our country. Imagine, we were able to keep in step with KUWAIT! That's a big deal to our football program.
Looking back, the First Leg ended with a 3-0 aggregate score in favor of Kuwait Al-Azraq. Now in Second Leg, the Azkals have the home crowd in the Philippines, but again, sadly, they lose again to Kuwait Al-Azraq by 1-2. The aggregate now is 5-1 in favor of Kuwait.
In First Half of last night's 2nd leg match, the Azkals showed their very best just to score 3-0 to Al-Azraq but unfortunately they fell short. There were many opportunities for the Azkals in First Half especially for Phil Younghusband, our ace-striker and Chelsea Reserved player. On his first attack, it was just very near but the goal keeper of Al-azraq, Nawaf Al Khalid, saved the shot of Phil. On his
second attack, he raced to the Kuwaitis until on penalty box, but it was clearly tackled by the Kuwaitis.
Rob Gier played excellent in First Half, he defended the attacks of Al-Azraq and Rob got his first shot attack on this qualifiers, but it was clearly saved by the goal keeper. Also, Kuwait had many opportunities, but they were clearly saved by Neil Etheridge. It was only until the 3 minute stoppage time, in the 48' minute, Stephan Schrock, a Half German-Filipino player, got his first goal and his first goal ever as an Azkal. It was that 20-yard shot of Stephan that made the whole Rizal Memorial Football Stadium erupt. We have the lead till the half-time with the score of 1-0, but the Azkals committed fouls on the 2nd half. On 61' Minute, Yousef Nasser, the goal scorer of Azkals in Kuwait on 16 minute, just erupted after the 13' minute goal of Schrock, a very long kick that passed to Etheridge, ties the ball game, 1-1. Then another attack of Waleed Ali on 85' minute was the winning goal of Kuwait. The ball passed to Etheridge's hands. It was not saved by our number 1 goalie. Rey Jonsson had the chance to stop the ball but he wasn't able to save it because it was just too near to the goal post.
Until the the Final Whistle Blows on 93' Minutes, it signals the end of the campaign of Azkals in 2014 FIFA World Cup. The fans were sad because coming into last nigt's match, the Philippines was undefeated in 8 games in their home crowd, but despite the sour defeat, the Fans still proudly cheered for the Azkals.
I want to acknowledge our goalie, Neil Etheridge because if he didn't play good in their 2 games, maybe our aggregate became 10-1 just like what happened to Nepal. Jordan trashed out Nepal 9-0 in the first game.
Nonetheless, it was still a good experience for the Azkals because this was their first time, under coach Michael Weiss, to appear in the 2nd Round of the World Cup Qualifiers. There are still more games left for the Azkals this year and next year. There would be 2 or (3) events in this upcoming year. In the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 in Nepal, the Azkals are now in the Quarter Finals and they need to win this game in order to qualify in 2015 Asian Cup in Australia. The other one is AFF Suzuki Cup 2012, in Malaysia and Thailand, and maybe, the Azkals and the other teams will be able to join the "Socceroos" in Australia.
Indeed, there are still more games left for the Azkals and we should wish that they would become champions in those Upcoming Tournaments. God Bless Azkals!
Here is our lone goal last night courtesy of YouTube.