Karl Decena, InterAKTV
The Philippine national football team dispatched Chinese Taipei, 3-1, to sweep the Philippine Football Peace Cup on Saturday and win the country’s first international football tournament in 99 years.
Denis Wolf, who scored a hat trick in the Azkals’ 5-0 demolition of Macau last Thursday, opened the floodgates at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, scoring a goal at the 10th minute.
Skipper Chieffy Caligdong then took advantage of a poor clearance job by Chinese Taipei and buried a goal at the 35th minute.
OJ Porteria provided the Azkals a strong first half finish, hitting the net on a breakaway at the 43rd minute to give the Filipinos a commanding 3-nil edge at the break.
However, Azkals goalkeeper Eduard Sacapaño failed to keep a clean sheet throughout the tournament, giving up a goal to forward Chang Han at the 52nd minute that trimmed the Chinese Taipei deficit, 3-1.
Things got heated midway through the second half after Azkals midfielder Demitrius Omphroy seemed to tackle midfielder Lo Chi En of Chinese Taipei inside the penalty box. Chinese Taipei Football Association Vice President Leo Fu Tsai, who protested the call, was dismissed by the referees, but he refused to leave his team’s bench. The incident delayed the game for about 10 minutes.
Forward Lo Chi An then found a scoring chance off a free kick, only to roll harmlessly into the hands of Sacapaño.
The Azkals found a chance to increase their lead, but Patrick Reichelt’s attempt at the 79th minute went off the post.
Chinese Taipei had another opportunity to score after Jason De Jong tackled a Taiwanese player inside the box, giving captain Yang Chao Hsun a penalty kick in injury time.
But Sacapaño once again made another great save to cap a dominating performance for the Azkals.
The victory marks the first time the Philippines beat Chinese Taipei. The Filipinos had previously failed to defeat the Taiwanese in seven matches dating back to 1960.
The Azkals swept their three matches in the Peace Cup, winning against Guam, 1-0, last Tuesday and clobbering Macau, 5-0, last Thursday on their way to the championship.
The Peace Cup title is the Filipinos’ first international tournament win since the Philippines won a gold medal in the 1913 Far Eastern Games.