MANILA—The different backgrounds hardly matter now for the Philippine Azkals.
Chieffy Caligdong, a native of the football-loving town of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo, showed he was up to the task as the only homegrown player in the starting lineup.
And the rest of the side, a motley crew of players born and bred in Europe and in the United States, combined brilliantly to produce what has been described as the finest performance by the national side at home.
Caligdong scored on a virtuoso finish, sparking the team’s blitz in the 19th minute, while Phil Younghusband, who learned the game in England, and Angel Guirado, whose skills were honed in Spain, were also on target for the Azkals.
Younghusband and Guirado both shrugged off injuries to deliver goals.
Caligdong’s goal, the immediate impact on the game by Ian Araneta who substituted Younghusband, and Roel Gener’s steady play made sure that the presence of homegrown players in the side was felt.
“If they would have gotten the exposure like the other Fil-foreigners in the team, then who knows,” said team manager Dan Palami. “Caligdong might be a Messi or a Ronaldo.”
Two players raised in Germany, Manny Ott and Stephan Schrock, pulled the strings at midfield, while defenders Rob Gier, Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario and Paul Mulders kept the backline together with goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
“It’s the best performance I’ve seen from the team,” said coach Michael Weiss.