The Philippine men’s national football team put on a scintillating performance before an adoring Manila crowd, raining four goals while holding Sri Lanka scoreless in the second leg of their World Cup qualifying tie to take the series on aggregate goals, 5-1.
Just as the rain started to pour, Chieffy Caligdong opened the scoring at the 19th minute on a right-footed shot that bounced off the left goal post before crossing the line.
When the showers halted, Phil Younghusband joined the act at the 43rd minute with a left-footed shot off a counter-attack, a goal that had initially been disallowed before the referee overruled his assistant to give the Azkals their second marker.
The Philippine rampage resumed shortly after half-time. With the trailing Sri Lankans trying to press forward, striker Angel Guirado broke away on an excellent lead pass by James Younghusband for a goal at the 51st minute to give the Philippines a 3-0 lead.
Phil Younghusband hammered the final nail on the Sri Lankans’ coffin at the 57th minute, scoring on a penalty kick off a foul on Stephan Schrock in the left corner.
Beyond the scoring, the Philippine team put on a great show for the 13,000 fans who braved the rains to cheer on the Azkals. Taking advantage of the excellent condition of the pitch, newcomers Schrock, Guirado, Manny Ott, and Paul Mulders showed Filipino fans just why football is called the beautiful game, dazzling the crowd with their excellent ball work throughout the match. The four men, who all play in high-level European leagues, were playing their first international match before a Philippine crowd.
Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss gave credit to the fans who came out to support the team. “Thanks to Filipino people for the support to this team,” he said. “It is a special kind of love.”
He also noted that the well-kept home field helped the Azkals play to their potential.
“The pitch in Sri Lanka was used in planting tomatoes and potatoes,” Weiss said. “Here you see the difference in the pitch.”
For his part, Sri Lanka coach Jang Jung tipped his hat to the Philippine team. “Today, we are outplayed,” he admitted.
|Chieffy Caligdong (19′)
Phil Younghusband (43′, 57′ PEN)
Angel Guirado (51′)
|• Manjula Fernando (5′)
• Rohana Ruwan Dinesh (22′)
• Rohana Ruwan Dinesh (89′)
• Rohana Ruwan Dinesh (89′)
|• Anton del Rosario (34′)
• Stephan Schrock (37′)
• Aly Borromeo (60′)
• Ian Araneta (72′)
Despite the dominant performance, the Azkals did not walk away unscathed. Schrock, who had been murder in the midfield for the Philippine team in both games against Sri Lanka, was booked at the 37th minute. Team captain Aly Borromeo was also docked at the 60th minute when the outcome of the match was no longer in question.
Because they also each received a yellow card in the first leg in Colombo, Schrock and Borromeo will be suspended according to FIFA rules and will miss the Azkals’ next international match.
“Of course, it is a handicap not having them, it is a setback,” Weiss said of playing the next match without two of his stalwarts. “But we are Azkals, we are used to difficult situations. Every game is different, but we must give 20 to 30 percent more.”
With the win, the Philippines advanced to the second round of World Cup qualifiers. They are set to meet Kuwait, the reigning champion of the West Asian Football Federation and the Gulf Cup. The first leg of the second round tie will be played in Kuwait on July 23 before moving to Manila on July 28.