Veteran Chris Greatwich delivers memorable goal anew
MALE, MALDIVES—Scrappy as it may look, chalk this one to the collection of the Philippines’ greatest goals in international football.
And the scorer, Chris Greatwich, isn’t exactly a stranger to important goals for the country.
The 30-year-old Greatwich, who is celebrating a decade of playing for the Azkals late this year, again provided the late heroics when he smashed home Patrick Reichelt’s pass in the 104th minute, lifting the Philippines to a 3-2 extra time win over the Maldives in the semifinals of the AFC Challenge Cup at National Stadium here.
“The goal was all a bit of a blur really,” said Greatwich. “I wasn’t sure if Patrick’s shot was going wide so I just had to stick it in just in case. Just really happy we only had to hold on 15 minutes until the end and reach the finals.”
The goal from close range sent fans into ruptures not just the Filipino gallery in the stadium, but those who stayed up to the wee hours of Wednesday morning in Manila to witness the late drama on television.
Greatwich was the same player who rescued the Azkals from the brink of defeat against Singapore in the AFF Suzuki Cup four years ago, before scoring the first goal in the historic 2-0 win over then defending champion Vietnam—a victory that led to a first semifinal appearance in the tournament.
It was the tournament that catapulted the Azkals to stardom after long years of playing with little fanfare.
“Perhaps Vietnam had more impact in terms of where Philippine football was, but from a tournament perspective, it is the most important one,” said Greatwich.
The Filipino-British midfielder came in as a halftime substitute for Jerry Lucena, who actually put the Azkals on top with a close-range strike to make it 2-1.
Greatwich was on the bench for a couple of matches after suffering an eye injury in the opening minutes of the Afghanistan game last May 20.
“I wasn’t sure I was going to play you just have to be mentally ready,” said Greatwich.