Monday, July 04, 2011

Philippines advances to second round

THE Philippine Azkals made history by making it to the second round of the FIfa World Cup qualifiers after beating an overmatched Sri Lanka, 4-0, in the second leg of their first round match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

So dominant were the Azkals that the score Could have been easily more but the 4-0 tally was more than enough for the team to make the second round on aggregate, 5-1, after the 1-1 draw in Sri Lanka.

Next up for the Azkals is the dangerous Kuwait, one of the toughest team in Asia. The first leg will be in Kuwait on July 3, while the second leg is in Manila on July 28.

However, yesterday’s game came at a cost as Stephen Shrock and defensive anchor and team captain Alexander Borromeo got a yellow card. The two, who also got booked in the first leg, will miss the first match in Kuwait.

Criticized for a lackluster offense in the first game, the Azkals pressed on early, with Philip Younghusband, Angel Aldeguer and Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong taking turns in harassing Sri Lankan keeper Manjula Fernando.

James Younghusband joined the barrage and took his first shot in the 11th minute before Sri Lanka got their first chance at goal in the 15th, forcing a save from Neil Etheridge, who dedicated the match to his grandfather who died recently.

In the 19th, Phil flicked a header to Caligong, who held the ball just inside the box before shooting with his weaker right foot for the first goal of the game.

“It was a team effort. I wouldn’t have been able to score if not for Phil and James,” Caligdong said in Filipino during the post match interview on TV.

In the 24th, Phil forced Fernando to a diving save with his 30-yard effort, and in the 29th missed again from point blank range. Guirado and James connected in the 31st but their effort was wasted, while Sri Lanka got a chance from a free kick just outside the box off an Anton del Rosario foul.

In the 37th, Stephen Shrock got into an altercation with the Sri Lankan winger and got booked for a yellow card.

Phil finally connected in the 42nd, albeit in controversial fashion, after the assistant referee called him for a foul just before his goal. However, the referee overruled his assistant and the Philippines got a 2-0 lead just before halftime.

In the 50th, James Younghusband found Guirado just outside the box and the striker deftly beat the keeper to hit the empty net for 3-0.

In the 56th, the Azkals scored again, this time from the penalty spot courtesy of Younghusband after Shrock got fouled inside the box. Nine minutes later, Ian Araneta came on for Phil Younghusband.

Araneta immediately made his presence felt and had almost four clear shots at goal—sometimes with an open teammate just inside the box—but he missed them all.

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