Azkals Vs. Nepal
On October 11th, Rizal Memorial Stadium hosted a home game for the Azkals that was unlike any other I’d seen this year: the stands weren’t full.
But you wouldn’t know it based on how loud the crowd was as we cheered on our team. A reported 8,000 showed up for the FIFA-sanctioned friendly at the 13,000-seater. That’s 8,000 lucky supporters who were able to witness the Azkals beat Nepal 4-0, a score not many predicted after coming from a 2-0 defeat against Singapore the Friday before. (The Philippines ranks 166, Singapore 136, and Nepal 135 according to the current FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking Table.)
I joined Bob Guerrero at the Azkals’ last training session the night before. The team looked spirited, focused, and ready to put up a good fight.
Their scrimmage revealed who would be starting: Neil Etheridge, Aly Borromeo, Jerry Lucena, Ray Jonsson, Dennis Cagara, Jason de Jong, Paul Mulders, Chieffy Caligdong, James Younghusband, Ian Araneta, and Phil Younghusband.
It was a strong lineup though missing some familiar names: Rob Gier, who had flown in from England, was going to be starting on the bench alongside Misagh Bahadoran, Roel Gener, Nate Burkey, and Matthew Hartmann.
Sidelined due to injury were Angel Guirado and Anton del Rosario.
Stephan Schrock, who was supposed to fly in from Germany, couldn’t make the trip also due to injury.
During the game itself, you could tell the Azkals were hungry for a victory, even if the odds should have been against them. But they dominated throughout, scoring two goals in the first half (P. Younghusband, J. Younghusband), and another two in the second half (P. Younghusband, Hartmann).
4-0. Unexpected but well-earned and undoubtedly well-deserved.
I just wonder if it is really necessary to charge so much for tickets. Up to P3,000? I sense the ticket prices were more of a reason for the lower attendance; there certainly isn’t a lack of fans despite the fallout rate from those who rode on the hype for a while.
Had the prices been slashed by half, the stands would have been fuller. Let’s hope the PFF does something to make football more accessible to all, and on a regular basis at that. We can’t keep shelling out such big amounts to watch these games.
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Life’s My Trip sends our best to Azkal Team Captain Aly Borromeo for a steady and complete recovery.