BANGKOK—Chieffy Caligdong has struck some important goals for the Philippines throughout his career, but none of them matched the one he scored Tuesday night at the Rajamangala Stadium here.
“It’s up there (as my best goal),” Caligdong said in Ilonggo when asked where he would rank his 85th-minute strike in a 1-0 win over Vietnam in the AFF Suzuki Cup here. “Vietnam is a top team and it was a do-or-die game for us.”
In a game that presented an opportunity for Vietnam to avenge its loss to the Azkals two years ago, it was Caligdong, the smallest player on the pitch, who stood tallest.
There he was running in behind the defense, controlling a lofted pass from Angel Guirado with a fine first touch, before firing a volley to the opposite side of the Vietnamese goal.
It was Caligdong’s 16th international goal and the timing couldn’t have been any better.
“I just thought that if I get my first touch right, I could score,” said the Air Force sergeant, who did his customary Airman celebration while rushing to a group of flag-waving Filipino fans.
“That’s Chieffy. He always just kind of pops up with these important goals,” said Rob Gier.
Caligdong, who got subbed off before halftime in the 1-2 loss to Thailand, admits that starting on the bench served as a motivation for him to make the most out of his chance.
“It feels better to start the game, but I understood because I did not play well against Thailand,” said Caligdong. “I just told myself that if I’m given another chance, I will grab it. This goal is not just for me but for the Philippines.”