Philippine Azkals out to finish strong, battle Palestine for third


KATHMANDU—Their title hopes already extinguished, the Philippine Azkals look to fly home with the next best thing in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup as they battle Palestine for third place Monday night at the Dashrath Stadium.

Azkals coach Michael Weiss expects no letup from his squad with three key players—James Younghusband, Angel Guirado and Jason Sabio—returning to the Azkals’ fold after missing the 1-2 defeat to Turkmenistan.

“We will treat the match like a final,” said Weiss, whose side has already accomplished the best finish by the country in this tournament for Asia’s emerging football nations.

“I’m sure the team wants to get out of this tournament with a bang.”

But the Azkals will miss first-choice goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who is serving a one-match suspension for because of his injury-time red card against Turkmenistan.

Taking over on goal is Eduard Sacapano, a standout of the Philippine Army, who earns his first full international appearance since the 1-2 loss to Mongolia in prequalifying in Ulan Bator in March last year.

Sacapano is relishing his opportunity, having been on the bench for quite some time as Etheridge and Roland Muller have taken turns in the starting position.

“I’m just happy I’m getting my chance at such an important match,” said Sacapano.

Younghusband and Guirado, who were reduced to spectators against Turkmenistan after picking up two yellow cards in the group stage, will be back in the lineup along with Sabio, who has been bothered by knee pains.

The Azkals trained for the last time in the Nepalese capital Sunday, showing none of the emotional residue after the heartbreaker against Turkmenistan Friday night.

“I think the players are mature enough to brush this off,” said Weiss. “Winning third place means we are more stabilized.”

Palestine reached the semifinals with two wins over Nepal and Maldives in Group A, but the West Asians rammed into a powerhouse North Korean side, 0-2, in the semifinals, the same scoreline when the Azkals lost to the defending champions in the group stage.

The Philippines and Palestine actually battled to a scoreless draw in the qualifying stage in Myanmar last year, but the Azkals have a better, formidable side this time.

Creative midfielder Paul Mulders and striker Phil Younghusband, who formed a potent combination up front against Turkmenistan, did not play in that match in Rangoon.

Younghusband, the tournament’s leading scorer with four goals, stressed the importance of the match for the sport in the country.

“Getting third place is an achievement in itself for Philippine football,” he said. “(A win) will not replace the feeling of losing in the semifinals but it will sure make us happier.”

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  • Iggy Ramirez

    I think askals are good in one thing. Sexual harassment.

  • hosay


  • wehd1nga

    sorry but luck won’t do, Palestine like any arab live, eat and die football, Azkals dont need luck to beat Palestine they need miracle, lots of miracles…

  • pablowescobar

    give this boy a chance,go sacapano!  good luck azkals! kill arnold crabio!

  • Neil

    For 6 hrs,  SANA,  wala munang lilitaw na CLAVIO at CRISTY RAMOS.    Mas lamang tayo sa WORLD RANKING sa Palestine,  GO GO Azkals…

  • Juancho ren

    Palestine and Philippine Azkals have so many things in common. They are always massacred by the Zionist Israel while we are being massacred by crabs (of our own bloodlines).

  • 1VeritasAequitas

    Good luck, Azkals!  We are praying for you. May God bless and keep you always.

  • PHtaxpayer

    OMG, Palestine is about the size of Bacolod and is one of the most impoverished, war-torn countries in the world.  If we lose to them, ewan ko na!

    • HRK1

      Hmmm…we are no better…don’t you think?

      Like us, Palestine’s football is also undergoing a re-birth / renaissance, since their autonomy from Israel.

      Like us (and this will be a surprise to pinoy fans and pinoy crabs), Palestine also have players that are half-breeds (yes, you heard me). Some of their players, have Palestenian fathers and south american mothers.

      Their half-breeds were either born in Chile, Argentina or Uruguay. And similar to our Euro Azkals, they also play in the lower leagues of those countries. And in similar mode to our Azkals, those Palestenian players born in South America do not speak arabic and not even muslims (their main language is spanish, for obvious reasons). And similar again, those half-breeds were never born in Palestine, they did not fight for freedom, they did not live through oppression, but the the people of Palestine embraced them nevertheless, as if welcoming a long lost son.

      The main difference between Palestine and Philippines is that they have always been united as a people in their political and social struggles against Israel. Additionally, they are from a region where football is THE sport – race, religion and football unites them. Nothing else distracts them from football.

      And when it comes to football, they cheer under one voice, one flag, one team.

      Are we the same do you think…..are we united… we cheer under one voice, one flag, one team?

      • PHtaxpayer

        Wow, thanks for that info…not surprising they also have half-breed “imports” as thousands of Palestinians were displaced since the first Arab-Israeli war back in 1947.  Since then, they have had several wars, including civil war.  Thousands settled in Europe.  I had Palestinian classmates when I was going to college in California.

        No, we are far from united.  Soccer is not yet a grass roots sports in the PH.  I think most teams are from the upper-class.  We have a long way to go.

        OK so its our Azcals vs. theirs.  LOL

  • f35

    You win some,…you lose some. You can’t win them all. Should you win, then all that hard work would have paid off and you deserve it. But if you lose in spite of giving your all, then it only means that the other team is better. Simple as that. When hat happens, remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famous cliche————-“I’LL BE BACK”.

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