Photo by Ginalyn Gonzalvo
After not winning the game in Mohammad Al-Hammad Stadium in Kuwait last July 24 against the mighty Kuwaiti Al-Azraq Football team for the Leg 1 of the Round 2 2014 World Cup Qualifiers, the AZKALS are back home to play the Leg 2.
Last night in the hope of upsetting the Kuwaiti team and clinching the Round 2 to advance for the group stages, the Philippine Football Team ‘The Azkals’ fight it all out in front of a wet and wild home crowd. Staged again in the 13,000 seater Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, the Azkals played hard ball in the hope of beating the powerhouse Kuwait. Shouldering the pressure of winning, the team pressed on and put more solid defenses on the numerous attacks by the arabs. Several attempts from the Kuwaitis have been cleared by the Azkal defenders and the golie Neil Etheridge.
Photo by ABS-CBNnews.com
With the speed and nice ball handling and coordination by the Kuwaitis, the Azkals also had a hard time attacking the goal. Several offenses have been fired by the Pinoys but the Kuwaiti team also showed great defense clearing all those attacks. But it was the long range kick to the goal by Staphan Schrock that ROCKED the stadium and give the Azkals a burning hope for the win. With Philippines leading 1-0 at the half, they continued pressing the defense and looking for opening to launch another attack to score. But it seems Kuwaitis are really skillful, after the 61st minute of the game the pinoy crowd suddenly went silent with the goal from Yousef Nasser of Al-Azraq equalizing the game to 1-1 (and 1-4 on aggregate).
With just minutes more to play, it is then highly impossible for the Azkals to snatch a win, more over when another goal was scored by the Kuwaitis on the 83rd minute resulted from an own goal by Rob Gier who failed to kick the ball away from the goal. And on that moment the history has ended. Our quest for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil is now over.
Photo by Danny Pata (gmanews.tv)
We may be victorious to advanced for the world cup dream but what’s more important is that we were able to reach round 2 this time. No Philippine team ever, has reached this far and it’s far far great achievement already. Another fact is that we were able to give a great match against the more skilled and much higher ranked team in the world of football. Imagine Kuwait is ranked 92nd and we’re at 162nd and yet the Kuwaitis still had a hard time playing with us, and with that I am still proud of our team Azkals. They have brought another inspiration to our country and to our people.
Because of them we now have another sport to cheer, to watch and to unite for, and that’s more than enough to ask for. Because of football a nation who is clouded with political divisions and even religious animosity has been united even just for couple of hours. Because of PINOY FUTBOL Filipinos are now in full support of fellow Filipinos. And because of the Azkals we are more proud now that we are Filipinos, because we know in unity we can achieve something that seemed to be impossible then. So keep the fire burning, keep the hopes alive, continue the battle, prepare for the fight. Pinoys we are proud of each other, WE BELIEVE
Photo by ABS-CBNnews.com
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee
“Victory isn’t defined by wins or losses. It is defined by effort. If you can truthfully say, ‘I did the best I could, I gave everything I had,’ then you’re a winner.” - Wolfgang Schadler