31 May 2014

Azkals fall short of goal after sorry loss to Palestine in AFC Challenge Cup final

By Karlo Sacamos

THE Philippines’ cherished dream remained just that: a dream.
The Azkals fell short of reaching the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup after bowing to Palestine, 0-1, in the AFC Challenge Cup final early Saturday at the National Stadium in Maldives, Male.
A stunning second-half free kick from Ashraf Alfawaghra proved to be the difference and sent the Filipinos into misery.
The Palestinians thus brought some good news to their war-torn nation after booking the last ticket to the Asian Cup where they will be up against quality teams Japan, Jordan, and Iraq, among others.
Overall, it was still a remarkable finish for the Azkals, who reached a final of a major tournament for the first time in history.
The Palestinians dominated possession in the first half where they created at least four clear-cut chances that were just denied by standout Filipino goalkeeper Roland Muller.
Muller, however, failed to save Alfawaghra’s free kick that went into the upper-left corner, awarded to Palestine after Jason de Jong committed a foul in the 58th minute.
The Azkals conjured their own attempts, including their best chance four minutes before stoppage time when Phil Younghusband escaped his defender, took the goalkeeper one on one, but fired his shot over the bar.
Searching for that equalizer, Daisuke Sato attempted a long-range missile that was just saved by the Palestinian goalkeeper a few minute before second-half injury time.



  1. Fair and square. The best team won the cup. No regret.
    So, the Challenge Cup, a back door qualifier for the worst teams in Asia, is over for good. We will have to fight in the regular qualifier from the next Asian Cup. But good thing is, from 2019 Asian Cup, it will be 24-countries competing, not 16, so i think there will be enough change for us to qualify without Challenge Cup. Well it's a good news not only for us but all the neighboring SEA countries as well who have usually been devastated in the regular qualifiers.

    Anyway now let's go for the Suzuki Cup. It will be more fun with Australia joining from this year, although they will probably send B team or under age team.

  2. Agree with Anon 00:55. Note however that Australia is not allowed to join the Suzuki Cup (and any AFF tournament involving Men (Senior) teams. That was the condition for acceptance of Australia in AFF.

    1. Thank you for the info. But i don't get it. Then what is the bloody point of their joining AFF ?

    2. They joined to ensure their non participation in AFF tournaments. This will make loser powerhouse like Malaysia Indonesia Vietnam very happy.

    3. That was a sorry loss for the Azkals. It could have gone the other way if not for the bad decision making of de Jong.

  3. I think Palestine knew that we always commit fouls on that area.