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AFC Challenge Cup: Philippines is not a serious contender

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Philippines football team or the Azkals as they are fondly called are grouped in the Group B of AFC Challenge Cup alongside India, DPR Korea and Tajikistan. FIFA ranked 156, they are just behind India (joint 154 with Bahamas).

In the qualifiers, they were grouped with Palestine, Bangladesh and Mayanmar. But they managed only one win against Bangladesh and qualified as the second best team in the group with 2 draws and a win.

Right now Philippines football is at a transition period but it beggars saying that they are struggling as a footballing nation. Their best memories in the recent past roots from the dream run in Suzuki Cup 2010 where they reached the semi-final.

The Philippines FA has implemented a new strategy to give the football in the nation a big boost. They have started looking for Filippino origin players growing in fotballing nations. The idea is that the players will bring in quality to the team and inspire a new generation of players.

Following this principle, they have quite a few names at hand, many of whom are established/semi-established players in big leagues. There are players like Neil Etheridge and Paul Mulders. Neil is a reserve goalkeeper for English premier League team Fulham and has been cleared to play for the Azkals in AFC Challenge Cup. Paul plays for Dutch Premier league Eredivisie  team Ado den Haag and is of Dutch-Filipino origin.

Their captain James Younghusband is of English-Filipino origin while Misagh Bahadoran is of Persian-Filipino origin. In fact the list is quite long and includes Stephan Schrock (German-Filipino, Bundesliga Div 2), Dennis Cagara (Danish-Filipino, Bundesliga Div 2), Roland Mûller (German-Filipino, Bundesliga Div 2) and Angel Guirado (Spanish-Filipino, PhilippinesDiv 1)

This variety of flavour has certainly added to their firepower. But the team hardly got to practice together as some of the foreign based players were not released by the respective clubs. In the name of camp, they would only like to remember the Dubai camp as the one preceding this in Philippines was severely interrupted by the clubs demanding for players.

Azkals lost their first friendly in Dubai against Uzbekistan U23 by 0-3 but came back strong in the second match against Australia which they lost 0-1 after putting up a good fight. They would like to take heart from the match against Malaysia which they drew 1-1 at home.

The Azkals’ manager Dan Palami however is not very hopeful about their chances and had set the semi-final of the AFC Challenge Cup as their target. In an interview earlier he had said,

We want just like what we did in the Suzuki Cup to go to the semifinals at least, if we make it to the finals, that will be a dream come true

So clearly the the Azkals are putting themselves as severe underdogs and are going into the tournament with no serious ambition of winning it.

Somesh Upadhyay is the editor and co-founder of Indian Football Network. He has been closely following Indian Football for more than 12 years and is extremely passionate about it.
  • Rogelio012374

    hahahhahahaha!!!! for a stupid indian like the writer of this article.. where is team india now??? back in india sulking?????????? hahahahajajahahaha!!! good!! stay home and walk your dogs ok.. hahahahaha.. never ever underestimate the heart of the filipino you moron!

  • Raider3212

    lmao who’s at the semi finals now? india? yoohoo, where are you? oh yeah you lost all ur matches :P

    philippines = new afc challenge cup champions :D

  • Wicker

    so what now? :D  Philippines is still not a serious contender? Azkals had just beaten 2 former champs and one which has a higher FIFA rank.  Oh well, good luck Azkals against the Turks. You just created history today!

  • telai

    GOODNESS, our national is not a serious contender but we’re off to the SEMIS. 

  • Lenitojr Monter

    As I said dont underestimate people, “dont judge a book by its cover ” most especially ” DONT UNDERESTIMATE THE BITE OF AN AZKALS TEAM”

  • Arrogance

    The “not a serious contender” are in to the semifinals, ARROGANCE brought your DOWNFALL. take that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vincent-Prado/100000175778181 Vincent Prado

    Great Joke i mean article?

  • cjeagle

    You were saying. Time to eat crow. 

  • indian fan

    Congratualtions to all the Azkal supporters. Yes you played a good game and we were bad

  • PH KNIGHT

    Philippines is not a serious contender? yeah right.. 2-0… hahahha…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/YJWNIZVUSLMUXYNGIOCN5PV4LQ Rey Mat

    this blogger did not even include our win against qatar’s first division team and also called as a team without ambition of winning… well how about your former champions taking a 0-2 loss. Can we call them LOSER!!!

  • ISPAY

    We are not yet serious 2-0, next time we will be very serious with INDIA…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001205976102 Jonshel Heyley

    Calm Down Please.. This is just a blog.. Just keep on supporting our team.. Don’t make some none-sense fight here.. I Am happy that being an underdog right now and because of our Manager DAN PALAMI and COACH WEISS and our SCOUTS abroad.. Football is getting better in our COUNTRY.. One Step at a Time.. Awoooooooooo….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nowe-Cirdan/100002642261292 Nowe Cirdan

    Nice article. The Philippine Azkals did not play seriously moments ago when they trashed your Indian team 2-nil. Otherwise if we played the serious game, we could have won 4-nil. 

    Oh. No Jeje Lalpeklua? No Baichung Bhutia? Anyway, we have no Stephan Schrock, no Aly Borromeo, no Dennis Cagara, no Dennis Wolf, etc. That’s fair enough. Sri Lanka was better when they drew with us 1-1 (and we won 5-1 on aggregate). 

    Somesh Upadhyay, go play cricket. Concentrate on cell biology.

  • Trl_ptr

    to india bye 0-2 vs phl

  • Paperez611

    Now you just got Bitten by a Rabid street dog….too bad.

  • http://twitter.com/uddan_thegreat jordan rey francisco

    and the azkals just outplayed india…no serious ambition huh? to be in the semis is a big deal already, you wanted to win and you just belittled a team which finally beat you! wahahaha. philippine team indeed is now fighting!

  • shsfhssshj

    to the author of the article.

    2-0 lol

  • pulgas

    yes we are underdogs and we are not serious contender! By the way, Azkals defeated India 2-nil just a couple of minutes.

  • AnakNiBerto
  • mark

    2-0 lol..congratz philippines,bye india!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XL26RCBRSVEUDXEYZML7EYQH7Q JM

    Okay….put less pressure on the Philippines…come on, be complacent – take us for granted, belittle us, yes we’re weak, we suck……as long us we’re seen as that the better for us. Street dogs can bite too!

  • Bbb

    considering the SEA region is stronger in footbal than the cricket playing region where india plys thier trade these are strong words…we will seee.

  • pol

    let them belittle our azkals.. complacency will bring them down!

  • Ryuamakusa90

    No ambition? We’ll see. And the 2nd match in Dubai was alam
    Al ahli of qatar which they won. Australia was the 3rd match.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mdalea MD Alea

    Your assumptions are worse than your spelling.

  • Tisoy

    the last time the Azkals were taken for granted, they finished the tournament with a BANG and made it to the top 10 sporting news of the year…i hope they will do the same in the challenge cup…but if not, i hope we can go kick some 5-6 butt!!!

  • Martin

    to the writer: it’s “Filipino” not “Filippino” :)

  • Leroycbic

    thats why Philippines is placed in the Group of former champions DPR Korea, India, Tajikistan….. because Philippines will be the 2012 Challenge Cup Champions…. Im sure all the teams are afraid by now what the Philippines can do…

  • foo’so…

    foo’so…Isang tahol, isang dugo…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001390352678 Dmitri Sakmiof

    Ouch, coming from an Indian blog. Personally, I think we can beat India, mainly because I feel South Asian teams are overrated, and are inferior in quality to South East Asian teams. However, I think we just need to wait and see, and prove that out on the Pitch.

  • andsien

    just wait and see…

  • filipinowreckingmachine

    Korea, India and Tajikistan might just watch out because they might get caught off guard when our AZKALS strikes! ;) To all the people who our doubting us, just you watch on Friday how we play against DPR Korea… AZKALS WE BELIEVE!!!!!!! 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2AWS5L2BPXPL2KCJJIVVZRBFFE MiyakiB

    Psychological warfare…. ^_^

  • YOSI

    Less pressure more dangerous…