30 June 2011

World Cup Qualifiers: Philippine Azkals salvage draw versus Sri Lanka

COLOMBO—A resilient Philippine side fought back to salvage a 1-1 stalemate against Sri Lanka Wednesday in the first leg of their opening round World Cup qualifying match at the Sugathadasa Stadium here.

Substitute Nate Burkey, making his debut for the Philippines, headed home James Younghusband’s saved header in the 50th minute to give the Azkals a precious away goal heading to the second leg in Manila on Sunday.

An away goal will only count if a two-leg series ends up tied on aggregate, meaning a scoreless draw will be enough for the Azkals to go through to the next round against Kuwait.

Playing their first World Cup qualifying match in 10 years, the Azkals fell behind on the 43rd minute when Pordi Chathura’s 20-yard free kick beat a diving Neil Etheridge to his right.

It was an eerie reminder of the late equalizing goal that the Azkals yielded to Myanmar in the AFC Challenge Cup in March.

After a quiet opening half, the Azkals, egged on by about 200 Filipino supporters in the stadium, came alive in the last 45 minutes, keeping the Sri Lankans on their heels.

Stephan Schrock, making his Philippine debut, was an influential figure at central midfield and his passing constantly opened up the Sri Lankan defense.

But except for Burkey’s goal, the Azkals lacked the clinical finishing touch to punish the Sri Lankans, who refused to back down, making the match a rugged affair.

One such incident came in the 18th minute when Phil Younghusband was fouled by midfield enforcer Fazlur, triggering a scuffle in the middle of the field.

James Younghusband and got yellow cards in the aftermath of the incident. The Azkals had two other yellow cards – Schrock and skipper Aly Borromeo – who were booked for mistimed challenges.

Phil Younghusband had two glorious early chances saved by Manjula Fernando in the first half, before the Filipino-British striker was substituted by Burkey in the 40th minute for what looked like a hamstring injury.

Putting more pressure on the Sri Lankans immediately after the restart, the Azkals were rewarded with Burkey’s scrappy goal.

Chieffy Caligdong, the only homegrown player in the starting lineup, floated a long free kick into the area that was met by James Younghusband, whose header looked to have crossed the line.

Amid the confusion, Burkey was quickest to react and he banged it home for the equalizer.

Schrock, a standout rightback playing for Greuther Furth in the German second division, was still proving dangerous with the ball and his effort from just outside the box just went wide in the 60th minute.

Another chip pass from Schrock offered substitute Ian Araneta with a late scoring chance, but the Air Force striker managed a weak effort that was easily saved by Manjula.

Just when everyone thought the Sri Lankans were playing for a draw, the hosts managed to conjure one more chance when Nimal fired a bristling shot that draw an impressive reflex save from Etheridge in the first minute of injury time.

The Azkals arrive in Manila Thursday night, leaving them with two full days to prepare for the rematch against the South Asians.



  1. what could expect they have only atleast to months of training...bad pitch....too hot indian ocean summer...now they know the value of cohesiveness...kaya nila yan sa mla leg...

  2. you should know better than that. no elements can affect a good team . stop the excuses , take out the the pampered players. let real filipino football players play . they can train like hell ... they can take the hottest of summer ... they have the heart to fight because they know who they are representing . Filipinos are known to thrive and are cohesive enough to make it in any country. the players line-up is so commercial and showbiz that led to a brutally chaotic game with sri lanka who knows cricket more than football.
    Still... i hope they win the Manila leg... for the next game with Kuwait will be a bloody massacre ... Good bye World cup Brazil 2014

  3. Our team should concentrate more on football again. It's ok that the team gets now some attention from the media but probably soem players got a little bit too dizzy from all this attention......acting more like rock and commercial spot stars than soccer players. Especially some circumstances in the training camp in Germany (as far as it was reported) sounded not that promising......usually with such an squad it should be at least possible to beat such an unexperienced and not so well prepared squad like Sri Lanka at least with 1-0 or 2-1. I don't say any team can be beaten easily but Sri Lanka showed us how to play: with heart and passion and fighting like hell. Sometimes it seems our players take all a bit too easy ......especially when they already talking about Kuwait or group stage even without kicking one ball vs. Sri Lanka......hope this won't end up in a bad awakening..........nevertheless good luck for Sunday and fight like Hell.