Azkals shoot for finals berth today in Challenge Cup-A A +A
Friday, March 16, 2012
MANILA -- Two players who had key roles in the Azkals' historic campaign in the 2012 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup will not be in the pitch Friday in Nepal as the Philippines tries to set a championship date.
Missing in action in Friday's semifinal against Turkmenistan is James Younghusband and Angel Guirado, who accumulated two yellow cards in the two-week old tournament, while defender Jason Sabio may skip the match due to a minor knee injury.
"Suspensions happen in football. We don't cry or lament about what happened as I have a squad of players that always want to play. They always come to me and say 'coach, let me play, let me play' so now they have a chance," Azkals coach Michael Weiss said in an article posted at the tournament website.
Guirado helped the Philippines' come-from-behind victory over 2006 champions Tajikistan last Tuesday, setting up Phil Younghusband for the equalizer before he iced the match through a header, while James assisted his brother Phil in scoring two goals during the upset win against 2008 winners India.
With their absence, reports indicate that Jason de Jong, Marwin Angeles, and Lexton Moy might be given the chance to play at the Dasrath Stadium.
Gametime is set at 4:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the championship but the opponent will only be determined after the other semifinal match between Palestine and North Korea, holder of an unblemished slate (3-0) in the eliminations.
Turkmenistan, runner-up in the 2010 edition, is actually 10 notches lower than the Philippines (No. 156) in the Fifa rankings, but that hardly matter for both squads this time.
Whatever the result, the AFC article said the unheralded Philippines has carved history for being the first Southeast Asian nation to make it to the semifinals of the six-year-old tournament.
"The Philippines have taken the tournament by storm, with some entertaining and enterprising football on the pitch where they have been cheered on by a small but equally entertaining pocket of supporters," the tournament said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)