MANILA Philippines (July 3, 2011 6:00 P.M.) - For the first time the Philippine Football team advances to the 2nd round of the World Cup Qualifiers after the Philippine Azkals win by a 4-0 shutout of Sri Lanka Brave Reds this afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.
With the win, the Azkals advance to face the higher ranked Kuwaiti team on July 23 and 28.
After preliminary ceremonies, the game started at exactly 3:00 P.M. despite the rains that soaked the ground and the players. All the 4 game officials were South Koreans.
At the 19th minute a tight goal by Chieffy Caligdong started Azkals' scoring binge and was met by loud roars from the crowd. Team mates piled over the diminutive Caligdong as he was pinned on the ground and Coach Michael Weiss hugs him.
A goal by Phil Younghusband at the 43rd minute gave the Azkals a 2-0 lead.
At the 50th minute Angel Guirado Aldeguer did a superb job of evading the goal keeper to complete a breakaway goal on a pass from James Younghusband to further increase Azkal's lead to 3-0.
At the 57th minute Phil Younghusband nails a penalty kick that proved to be last point of the match, making the Azkals 4-0 lead insurmountable.
The crowd sensing a blowout win for the Azkals started chanting "OLE! OLE! OLE!".
Azkals nailed 4 out of 26 shots and won 5-1 on aggregate of the 2-game series.
After the game, the Azkals went around the oval to the cheers of the crowd.
Today's win more than made for Azkals' lackluster performance in Sri Lanka. The conditions today are different said Azkals coach Michael Weiss.
"It was difficult to play in Sri Lanka because it's a different pitch there. Today it’s a different story,” he said.
Team captain Aly Borromeo agreed.
“We couldn't play our normal fast style in Sri Lanka. All the hard work paid off. This is just the start. There's still a long way to go,” Borromeo said.
Before the start of the match, Azkals' team manager Dan Palami admitted having butterflies in his stomach for the past few days because of the excitement of today's match. He feels elated though about the resurgence of football in the country. (From philstar.com, Vox Bikol)