PH booters have unfinished business in Bangkok


JAMES Younghusband (right) and Denis Wolf scrimmage before their first game on Saturday. ANTON SHEKER/GOAL.PH

BANGKOK—James Younghusband and Chris Greatwich couldn’t help but wax nostalgic coming back to the Thai capital for this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup.

The two were members of the 2007 national side that lost two lopsided games and bombed out early when the tournament was still known as the AFF Championship here.

Back then, the team came here with little fanfare, lost captain Aly Borromeo to a knee injury eight minutes into the first game and limped home to a last-place finish in the group.

Now playing with one of the best-assembled Filipino national sides in history, Younghusband and Greatwich together with Anto Gonzales and Chieffy Caligdong are aching to exorcise the ghost of 2007 in this year’s championship.

And along with having the strong squad comes the expectations to deliver victories.

“It’s an exciting time for the team,” said Greatwich, who scored two goals in the group stage two years ago to help the Azkals reach the semifinals for the first time. “The team is very deep. The expectations are high and it’s important that with the added pressure, we maintain our focus.”

“We always talk about memories and we’re just raring to get back playing here,” said Younghusband, who played with a hamstring problem four years ago.

The Azkals bowed to Thailand, 0-4, in their previous meeting four years ago at the National Stadium, but Greatwich insists that the game was closer than the scoreline suggested.

History, however, shows that the Thais have had their way with the Filipinos in this tournament, having won all four meetings.

The rivalry with the Thais notwithstanding, Caligdong wants nothing more than to make up for that disappointing showing in 2007.

“I feel we have some unfinished business here in Bangkok,” said Caligdong.

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  • Justine Ramirez

    hi team azkals

  • japokjackpot

    2-0 Azkals won against the Thais… my 1 cent prediction!

  • christopher

    PH Booters? c’mon call them AZKALS.  All the best and knock them all out!

  • Mark Lee Cinco

    Go Azkals!!! Surprise the other ASEAN teams again…Filipinos are all out to support your every game. Viva Islas Pilipinas!!!

  • Mark Lee Cinco

    (My Football Experience) What easily reminds me of were my football-playing years during high school (’98-’02), we were so addicted that time that we practice and play short futbol games after classes, we were i think the batch who were always on the school’s mini-pitch to play the beautiful game as others liked to play other ball games. Imagine, on the very first year of playing football with lack of experience, although we have 2 legitimate provincial meet players that time, no one would think of us to be crowned champions in the Intramurals as we were very small but quick little sleeping giants and from that on, we have embraced, loved and obsessed to playing football. It was a history in our school as Freshmen got to be Champs and the rest was a success story, we were Champions for three school years (Juniors, Seniors), only just to be eliminated in the Second Year when we lost our stiker/forward/main man (one of two experienced provincial meet players) when he transferred to another school. But it didn’t hinder us from proving ourselves even more to our counterparts in the school that being Freshmen Champs wasn’t just a fluke. I was the Last Man/Defender for the first year and second year contests that time but was slowly forming and curiously learning myself to become an “unstoppable” GK :) and come 3rd year and 4th year Intrams, I’ve proven to my batchmates that I can man between the posts amidst their apprehensions on my Gkeeping skills and then I was the official Goalkeeper of our batch, (yeah!, the position I was really obsessed with :) with each contest proving to be a tough one with two Championship Penalty Shoot-outs wherein I have to make brilliant saves, which fortunately and humbly I made a clean sheet during my GKeeping jobs in two years, and just to get back the title we have lost in the Sophomore days. That’s why I really could feel how our GKs (Etheridge, Muller, Sacapano) are elated everytime they make important, spectacular diving saves. Whew, what an unbelievable experience that was, and I will never forget those HS memories that I’ve had together with my co-futbol fanatic batchmates… 

    • christopher

      dude, who cares? this is not about you so save this for your blogs!

  • Lando

    80,000 fanatical Thai crowd !!! kaya yan Azkals !!!

    • Lando

      plus Pinoy crabs – kaya pa rin yan Azkals !

  • peteryang47

    The key match for The Philippines team is the opening match against the Thais. If the team can overcome the Thais and the passionate 80,000 crowd, , then the chances of winning the Suzuki Cup is bright. The players must stay focus and calm throughout the entire  match and disregard  the noise made from the partisan crowd. They must not even react when being provoke, cos the minute one react , he may bring the game into dispute, the team may then lose their focus and momentum of the game they had built. and it can be costly.  Team that made their chances count and made less mistake may troop out victorious. A defeat means, you got a mountain to climb  A draw is you get to live for another day, A victory is,stairway to heaven. Could be a tight match. 50-50 chance, The Philippines team are no pushover this time and the Thais know it…..All the best to The Philippines soccer team. My recommendation motto for the Philippines team and Filipino fans  in this Suzuki Cup is  ‘ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL”, Keep on playing the beautiful game and God bless

    • Mark Lee Cinco

      “JUAN FOR ALL, ALL FOR JUAN” :) Go pinoys’ make them all pay.

  • denz

    The Azkals has nothing to loose!!! 

    • baluga_ang_tataba_nang_nakaupo

      lol if they loose most of the fan base here in PH will be gone by the time they go back to PH. reality most of the fan base here are just hyped to the max just notice the kuwait game vs sing indo malay friendlys hinde nila mapuno un pitch dahil natalo nong kuwait.

      • ealicer

        sorry to tell you but it will only be some Luzon fan base that will be lost if that happens cause Visayan and Mindanaon fans know very well this sport. Maybe you haven’t watch the Azkals game vs Singapore that was held in Cebu.

      • baluga_ang_tataba_nang_nakaupo

        hehhe sabi mo e im no crab  sinasabe ko lng ang aking pananaw :P every game i watch them play expt peace cup.

      • ian martinez

        palawan supports Azkals

  • Noel

    Thai is not only a strong team but Azkals would be playing in Thai’s home.  But let’s wish our team the best.

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