Azkals relish dream AFC Challenge Cup finals stint
MANILA, Philippines — Four years after sparking the rise of football in the country, the Philippine men’s football team is not done making history.
After a series of failed bids in the AFC Challenge Cup, the Azkals finally reached a breakthrough on Wednesday as they earned a first-ever dream trip to the finale.
With another valiant effort, the Philippines nipped home squad Maldives 3-2 in extra time starring a late goal from veteran campaigner Chris Greatwich.
“Woke up this morning and thought it was a dream! Amazing to be in the final and thanks to all the fans for the overwhelming support,” Greatwich tweeted.
The 30-year-old Fil-British is no stranger to delivering the heroics as his two goals in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup helped steer the country to a historic semifinal stint.
Anton Del Rosario, one of the original players in the Azkals roster, was likewise amazed by the much-awaited finals stint for the Filipino.
“So proud of the team! Been on many teams but the character showed tonight was the character of heroes! One more game baby! Happy days!!!” Del Rosario said in a tweet.
“OMG what a thriller! Im so proud of everyone today! Maraming Salamat Kababayans! #proudazkal #believe #challengecup2014 #proudfilipino,” tweeted Paul Mulders.
The Azkals are assured of their best-ever finish in the tournament after failing to qualify in the 2008 and 2010 and settling for the bronze medal two years ago.
“Amazing feeling to be in the finals for the 1st time What a great support from all the Filipinos. One more game and we’ll see u in Australia,” Jerry Lucena, who scored the go-ahead goal in the 39th minute, said.
“This Team is Amazing! So blessed to be part! Thanks to everyone staying up late and supporting! 1 more win and we r going to SIIDNEYYYYY!!!!,” tweeted Patrick Reichelt.
A victory over Palestine on Friday will not only give the Filipinos the coveted crown but it will also send them to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.
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