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Challenge Cup 2012: Team Profile – Philippines

Challenge Cup 2012: Team Profile – Philippines

As the Challenge Cup approaches, profiles the 8 contenders who want a direct spot into the 2015 Asian Cup. In this edition, we focus on Philippines


Quick Facts

COUNTRY NAME: Philippines

GROUP : B (along with India, Tajikistan and DPR Korea)

ADMINISTRATIVE BODY:  Philippine Football Federation (managed by Autre Porte Techinique Global, as its affiliate)


NICKNAME: The Azkals (Street Dogs)

Last Match Played: Philippines 1-1 Malayasia (29th February 2012)

History And Team Highlights

Philippines is the first nation in Asia to form its football federation. It started in 1907 as the Philippine Amateur Football Association. One of the 12 nations to have formed the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), in 1961 all of the Philippines' football stakeholders became officially organized with the creation of the Philippine Football Association (PFA). In 1982 the PFA reorganized itself to become the currently named PFF. The first match to be played in the history of Filipino football was held in Manila, on the 15th of October 1907, in celebration of opening of the Philippines Assembly. Sandow team (which was later named as Sandow Athletic Club in 1909) were the winners of the match. The Azkals played their first international match on the 1st of February 1913, in a 1-0 defeat against China. After enjoying great success in the Far Eastern Games (earlier avatar of the Asian Regional Championships) they subdued into obscurity after 1934.

The team had enjoyed great success in its initial years especially in the Far Eastern Games, where between 1913 and 1934 they earned one gold (at the inaugural edition), seven silver and two bronze medals. Notable mention must be made of Paulino Alcantara, the first Asian to play for a major European team, FC Barcelona no less. Paulino stands as the club's youngest player and goal scorer till date, having scored a hat-trick on his debut at the age of 15 years, 4 months and 18 days on 25th February 1912. He also helped his country register its biggest margin of victory, 15-2 against Japan in the 1917 Far Eastern Games. Post-1934 Eastern Games, the nation has failed to get a medal in any competition sliding down to as low as 196 in the FIFA rankings. Thier biggest loss has, ironically, been inflicted by Japan who beat them 15-0 on the 27th of September 1967 in Tokyo. Recently however, there has been a revival of interest in the sport. Te Azkals also won three games in a row for the first time in their history during the group stages of the 2007 ASEAN football championship. Three consecutive draws in the remainder meant they would suffer another exit. PFF decide not to take part in the 2006 and 2011 qualifiers to focus on regional tournaments. They reached the knockout stage of the 2010 AFC Suzuki Cup for the first time, but lost to a vastly superior Indonesia side. As recently as last June the nation won its first World Cup qualifier, beating Sri-Lanka 4-0 and drawing 1-1 in the return leg. Recently on the 29th February they let a probable vicory slip out as despite a highly dominant performance against Malaysia they drew 1-1, conceding a goal in the last minute.

History In The Challenge Cup

Philippines have been able to qualify for only one edition of the competition prior to this year, and that was in its inaugural edition in 2006. There they were placed in Group A with India, China and Afghanistan. A 1-0 loss to China was followed by 1-1 comeback draw against India. Though they were losing against Afghanistan in the final do-or-die clash, an equalizer from Alvin Valeroso in the 58th minute was less than what they needed to progress.


Players To Watch Out For

Emelio Caligdong, 30 years: In the absence of injured influential skipper Alexander Borromeo who is out injured, it will fall upon vice-captain "Chiefly" Caligdong to ensure there is an inspirational presence on the pitch. Unavailable for the Malaysia friendly the left winger added a major boost to his team's chances by announcing his avilability. He scored both goals in the Azkals first ever win in the Tiger Cup 2004, against Timor-Leste.  Capped 31 times and having scored 8 times, he will have to use his experience to add the much needed spark that has been missing since the injury he suffered in January.

Phil Younghusband, 24 years : Having been born in England, Phil represented Chelsea at the youth level. The striker was Chelsea youth team’s leading scorer in 2004-2005 and also had 18 starts in 21 reserve team games, with a return of 5 goals. After a loan move in 2007 to Danish Champions Esbjerg, he returned next year to his motherland in the summer of 2008 playing first for San Beda and currently for the Loyola Meralco Sparks. He has scored 18 goals for the national side so far including the clincher against Vietnam in their famous 2-0 victory at the 2010 AFC Suzuki Cup.

James Younghusband, 25 years : The right sided midfielder is the equally appreciated brother of Phil Younghusband having won a scholarship to the Chelsea youth team when he was 10 years old. He also had stints with Wimbledon, Farnborough F.C. and Staines Town F.C.  He moved along with his brother to both San Beda and the Loyola Meraclo Sparks. 

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