Azkals rally to retain Peace Cup boot crownBy Cedelf P. Tupas |Philippine Daily Inquirer
BACOLOD CITY—Inspired by the brilliance of German Bundesliga veteran Stephan Schrock, the Philippines claimed the Philippine Peace Cup with a come-from-behind 3-1 triumph over Pakistan amid a festive atmosphere at Panaad Stadium here.
The fleet-footed Schrock, who plays club football for Eintracht Frankfurt, set up the equalizer of Patrick Reichelt in the 33rd minute before capping his heroics with a well-taken goal two minutes from time that sent the crowd into delirium.
Known for delivering important goals for the country, midfielder Chris Greatwich scored the go-ahead goal for 2-1 in the 78th minute.
The Azkals dropped a 1-2 decision to Chinese-Taipei on opening-day last Friday and needed at least a 2-1 victory to keep the Peace Cup.
They did that and more with a strong performance that provided a glimpse of their potential when they vie for an Asian Cup berth in the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives in May.
“The team showed what they can achieve if they play cohesively,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami, who, along with Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta, received the trophy from Bacolod City mayor Monico Puentevella. “We know there’s a long way to go for us but we’re happy with the win as it boosts our confidence.”
Etheridge was solid in between the posts, while Rob Gier and Juani Guirado were hardly troubled in the second half. Jerry Lucena put in a fine shift as defensive midfielder, while Misagh Bahadoran, getting a rare start, provided flashes of brilliance on the left flank.
Just like in past matches that mattered, the Azkals proved resilient even after going behind after 15 minutes when Hassan Bashir cut inside Jerry Barbaso and slotted the ball past a helpless Neil Etheridge.
Schrock’s quality, however, was there for everyone to see. He spearheaded the comeback, flicking the ball past a defender before going on a bristling run down the line. With time and space, Schrock found Reichelt at the middle for a first-time finish to a quick counter-attack. Mark Giongco, INQUIRER.NET