Azkals eye Challenge Cup semis vs. Turkmen today

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Saturday, May 24, 2014


PHILIPPINE men’s football team Azkals will face Turkmenistan tonight for their last assignment in Group B of the ongoing AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives.

The Azkals are currently number two behind Afghanistan with similar four points off a win and a draw card. The Afghans, however, edged the Philippines in goals for three to two having, beaten Turkmenistan, 3-1 on Thursday.

Philippines won 2-nil over winless Laos as Simone Rota scored in the 41st minute off Laos keeper Vathana Keodouangdeth. Rota's goal was a follow-up off a Stephan Schrock’s miss.

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The Azkals gained momentum in the second half and finished with flourish in the 63rd minute on a header by Patrick Reichelt off a corner kick from Phil Younghusband.

For Nicolas Golez, administrator of Ceres-La Salle FC, he sees the Fil-German midfielder becoming a factor in winning the game.
“But then again, it will be a team effort. I hope Juani [Guirado] will be fit to play because he is the anchor of our defense. Overall, I think we will prevail and it will be a sweet revenge,” he added.

On the second week of May, Reichelt and Guirado led the Ceres’ side in scoring during the AFC President’s Cup held at Panaad Stadium.

Unfortunately, the Bacolod-based club, which represented the Philippines, failed to advance in the final stage.

A heartbreaking 2-1 loss against Turkmenistan’s HTTU Asgabat blew its chance to draw, allowing a goal in extended time in both halves.

Guirado will most likely be sidelined as he was badly hurt during the game against Laos.

Asked if the suspension of Turkmenistan’s key players will be an advantage to the Azkals, Golez thinks it will but stressed that “the Turk squad is a very good team based on their performance in the President’s Cup.”

Bacolod City Mayor Monico Puentevella, a member of Fifa TV and Marketing Committee, said: “We are close to making history tomorrow. Our boys are playing good football. I have a feeling we can beat Turkmenistan.”

He added: “Praise to Dan Palami, coach [Thomas] Dooley and the boys for making us proud – win or lose. Mabuhay ang Azkals. It’s about time to bring back the glorious football of yesteryears,” he added.

Bacolod leg champion Davies A, represented by University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos with SBP-Negros Occidental chairman Tony Agustin, tournament commissioners Jake Azucena and Bobby Tee, and Jomar Benedicto of SBP.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 24, 2014.

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