MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals arrived in Manila early Sunday morning, fresh from their celebrated stint in the Challenge Cup group stage in Myanmar.
The Filipino booters, who left Yangon (Rangoon) Saturday afternoon, landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on board Philippine Airlines flight PR 733 at around 4 a.m. from a connecting flight in Bangkok.
The Filipino squad was thrilled to be back home following their successful campaign in the tournament group stage. Azkals players Filipino-Spanish Angel Aldeguer Guirado and Ian Araneta scored a total of 3 goals against the Bangladesh Bengal Tigers.
“Excited na kami makauwi kasi ang daming nag-aantay,” Azkals team captain Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong told radio DZMM reporter Johnson Manabat in a brief interview.
They earned a qualification for the Challenge Cup tournament proper in 2012 by demolishing Bangladesh, 3-0, in their final group stage match on Friday.
“Masaya na may chance tayo na ma-qualify sa next round,” shared Caligdong.
That game was the Azkals’ final chance to advance into the tournament proper which will be competed by 8 teams that survived the 16-nation qualifier.
Before the game against Bangladesh, the Azkals were coming off from two straight draws against Palestine and group stage host Myanmar.
When asked if each player has already received the $1,000 rewardf rom team manager Dan Palami, Caligdong replied, “Wala pa [kasi] busy pa. Baka next week.”
The Azkals are expected to take a breather before making preparations for their next assignment: the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The 1st round of the Asian qualifier home-and-away series will be on June 29 and July 3.
To prepare for the games, Caligdong said “Parang magka-camp kami abroad.”
The Azkals’ opponent will be announced in a draw to be held in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) headquarters in Malaysia on March 30. Source