By Jerome S. Galunan Jr.
THE Philippine Football Team-Azkals clinched the second best spot in the Bracket A standing and eventually qualified in the 2012 AFC-Challenge Cup after beating Bangladesh Bengal Tigers Friday, 3-0, at Aung San Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.
Iloilo native Ian Araneta scored the Azkals’ opening goal in the 41st minute of the game after picking up the ball from the left side of the box off a scramble at the right wing of Bengal Tigers’ goal. Araneta’s goal gave the Azkals a 1-0 lead at the end of the first half.
Araneta’s score was also his 9th international goal and his first since his last against Timor during the Suzuki Cup qualifying last year.
In the second period, the Azkals started aggressively on offense, resulting to a second goal on a header from Fil-Spanish striker Angel Guirado-Aldeguer in the 54th followed by another goal in the 76th minute on a strike just outside the box.
During the scrimmage, Aldeguer and Chieffy Caligdong busied the Bangladesh defense by taking several close range attempts at the opponents’ goal.
The Azkals also had excellent defense with team captain Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario, Jerry Lucena and Ray Johnsson.
Just before the match against Bangladesh, Azkals’ team manager Dan Palami reportedly promised to give each member US$1,000 as bonus if they win the bout.
The Azkals starters were keeper Neil Etheridge, skipper Borromeo, co-skipper Caligdong, del Rosario, Johnsson, Guirado-Aldeguer, Araneta, Lucena, James Younghusband, Jason Sabio and Yanti Bersales.
Palestine topped the Bracket standing after winning over host Myanmar, 3-1. Myanmar started a 1-0 advantage in the early minutes of play but was not able to hold on to their lead and eventually bowed to the visiting Palestinians.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on March 26, 2011.