A for effort. This is the grade I am giving the Philippine Azkals for their performance in last night’s qualifying game against Kuwait. It was obvious from the start that our team is in for the greatest challenge yet in their football careers. I mean look at what were they up against. The Kuwait team has already been playing the fields probably over three years now. These guys know the ropes.
I held my breathe several times during the games. There were definitely several close-calls. The Azkals fought a good fight. But, their best wasn’t good enough. I can feel my heart stop everytime the opponents ball nears the goal. What a tremendous pressure for Neil Etheridge. I really feel for this guy. Suddenly I have a new found respect and admiration for goalkeepers.
Another brilliant player is Chiffy Caligdong. He was an obvious threat to the Kuwaiti team. I think, given a much stronger support Chiffy’s presence will strongly be felt. Of course, striker Phil Younghusband was a powerhouse as well. He too, has several close calls. His last ditch attempt to save the goal was something. But, I think it worked for the other team’s advantage. Too bad. No wonder one can see the exasperated look in his face towards the final minutes.
What I think was glaring was when Kuwait made a second goal. It seems the Azkals already lost the edge to play. Quite understandable, time really was literally ticking away. You can feel their hopes draining away.
But as mentioned, the Azkals fought a good fight. Their efforts cannot be downplayed. Sure we did not qualify for the World Cup. But hey, I think just being to play against several countries is already an honor. Let’s face it, the Philippines is relatively new to this sport. We still have a long way to go.
My son who is an avid football fan and player himself told me last night: “too bad we didn’t win, mama. To think, the other team were down to only 9 players. We were good, but Kuwait was better. Maybe in the next four years some new Azkals will play the field”
Good job, team Azkals:). Now that soccer is taking flight in our country, I’m sure the dream of the World Cup will soon be a reality.