by Manny Diel
The thrilling win at extra time by the AZKALS in the semi Finals of the AFC Challenge Cup Maldives 2014 against the host country Maldives ( 3 – 2 ) created football history in the Philippines that will inspire millions of young Filipinos to play the number one sport in the world .
The AZKALS Football Team has never reached the final before and the historic win is a big opportunity for them to go all the way into the main draw of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 scheduled from 9th to 31 January 2015 if they beat the Palestines in the Grand Final on Friday, 31 May.
Eight teams participated in the Challenge Cup, namely Kyrgystan, Afghanistan, Maldives, Myanmar, Laos, Palestine, Turkmenistan and the Philippines.
The AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 is the 16th edition of the continental championship after Asia’s showpiece event began in 1956. The first tournament played in Hongkong and won by Korea Republic was contested by just four teams, but now 16 nations will face-off for the right to be crowned Asian champions following on from Japan’s record fourth success in Doha in 2011.
The biggest football event in Asia will start from 9 January to 31 January 2015 and the games will be played in Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra , Melbourne and Brisbane. This major event is hosted by Australia and the Local Organising Committee is chaired by Mr Frank Lowy AC , President of the Football Federation of Australia and supported by State Governments of NSW, Victoria, Queensland, ACT and by the Federal Government.
Winning this tournament will be a big boost to the Football sport in the Philippines and could potentially attract many young kids to play this sport which is the number one sport in the world.
The winner of the AFC Challenge Cup will join the fifteen teams who have already qualified namely: Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar, Uzbekistan, DPR Korea, Iran, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, China.
The Philippines’ AZKAL team coached by Mr Thomas Dooley from USA have already made history for being in the Grand Final of the AFC Challenge Cup. But for all the Filipinos in Australia and the Global Filipinos we wish the AZKALS Team proclaimed the 16th Team in the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
As the saying goes, “ FINGERS CROSSED”.
Whatever happens, we hope to watch them in a friendly game or goodwill tour in Australia with any of the Premier A League Teams in the future.
CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!!!