Qatar - (AU) Azkals United
Philippine Football is on a renaissance, rebirth, being reborn, its like being back to zero again when the Filipinos embraced a religion in basketball, but then the AZKALS have stepped on so much achievement in such a short time that everybody notices that we have something to prove in the world's most popular sport.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is football, we lose some and we win on some. We are at an early stage of coming back to the pitch on a Philippine flag represent. We have shown through the AZKALS that Filipinos can and will be a team not to be bullied on the field.
Philippine International players born and raised in Europe or pure Filipinos grown in the country play side by side to battle a middle eastern powerhouse in Kuwait yesterday, we lost 3 - 0, but the score is not really a reflection of how we gallantly stood up to the much skilled Kuwait. playing defensively on a 4-5-1 formation we stuck on the strategy to block, tackle, clear any Kuwaiti onslaught, left to right, break away and long range strikes, The AZKALS would rather want to block all the shots with their leg, body and head and not let any ball pass them, Angel Aldeguer was physically tackled in the first minutes of the match as a Kuwait midfielder rushed in and sent Angel flying on a 360 and had him at his back shaken, he would suffer another tackle from behind as he tried to received a pass and turn it to a break away score fighting for the Philippines.
We had chances to take the lead as Phil Younghusband manage to stay onside on a break away but was met by Kuwait's goalkeeper, on a corner however Angel Aldeguer almost heads in to score but unlucky to hit the crossbar in the early minutes. Phil Younghusband all alone in front tries to scorched in a perfect goal placer but was tipped by a hairline! via the Goalkeeper sending it hitting the top bar again.
Unfortunately, the 1st goal was a skill, the 2nd was pure luck, and the third was fatigue, Neil Etheridge had defended his post all night as he was curled shot after shot and threatened by crosses on this evening. Ball possession was 80-85% for Kuwait. The pressure was tremendously at a constant build up, physical as it was, the brave AZKALS stood even at fatigue which was catching up on the adrenaline.
Back in Manila, AZKALS and its united fans are eager to bring home the game for the 2nd leg in Rizal Memorial Stadium on July 28. Everyone had their opinions, constructive and destructive haters present as well. The AZKALS didn't lose without a fight, nor will they lay the flag down in the 2nd leg without having to put on a brave face, but you know a secret better than anyone else kasi Pilipino ka, Azkals are more dangerous when angered, bloodied and beaten, so expect the unexpected when the Kuwaitis come to the Philippines.
We are proud of you AZKALS.
Photo by: Tariq Al-Ali