Despite playing in front of the home crowd the Philippine Azkals suffered a loss against Vietnam, with a score of 2-1 in the 1st leg of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup semifinals last December 2nd at the Panaad Stadium, Bacolod City.
The visitors fired the first shot on the 12th minute with Nguyen Anh Duc took advantage of the disoriented Azkals defense to put the visitors on top, 1-0.
But before the first half ended, the Azkals found a way to tie the score at 1-1 courtesy of a goal from Patrick Reichelt in the injury time after he connects with the cross facilitated by teammate, Phil Younghusband.
Reichelt’s goal was the first- ever goal of the Azkals in the semifinals phase of the Suzuki Cup. The team went goalless in their semifinals duels against Indonesia (2010), Singapore (2012) and Thailand (2014).
Vietnam quickly fought back in the second half with Phan Van Duc scored in the 48th minute after escaping the Azkals offensive trap.
Reichelt almost tied the score at 2-2 at 82nd minute but his goal went to high for the Azkals, allowing the Vietnamese to have a sigh of relief.
“(Vietnam is a) very good team, the best team we have played against in the Suzuki Cup,” Azkals head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said via ESPN 5. “If you want to beat a team like this you cannot concede two goals.”
The Azkals will try to bounce back as they face the same team in the leg 2 of the semifinals at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam on December 6th with Eriksson thinking positive despite the loss against Vietnam in the first leg of the semifinals.
“Now 90 minutes to go on Thursday. So we go there and try to change this. I’ve seen bigger things happen. We are not out of this. Definitely not,’’ Eriksson expressed.
“I think if we play as we did in the first I think we have a chance,” he added as the Azkals need to score three or more goals to advance in the championship round.
Expected to play in front of the huge Vietnamese crowd, the Azkals, back in 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup was silent as the 40,000 people trooped to the My Dinh National Stadium in beating the home team, 2-0 in Group Stage with Chris Greatwich and Phil Younghusband scored for the visitors during the 38th and 79th minute.
The victory of the Azkals against Vietnam, then- Suzuki Cup champions led to the uprising of the team and Philippine Football in general.
The question is if the ‘’ Miracle in Hanoi ‘’ back in 2010 will repeat itself? The miracle is now on the hands of the current batch of Azkals players.
AFC commends PFF for creating and managing PFL well
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) recognized the effort of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) in creating and governance of the Philippines Football League (PFL) during the 28th AFC Congress held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last October 31st.
AFC Development Committee chairman Zhang Jian awarded the League Development Award to PFF, represented by its President Mariano ‘’ Nonong ‘’ Araneta.
“This is an award that will inspire us to improve our league and our clubs to do better. We hope that the PFL continues for many years to come,” said Araneta via The Manila Times.
The PFL founded back in 2017 was the top-tier football league in the Philippines, replacing the now-defunct United Football League.
PFL started with eight participating teams in the 2017 season but in early 2018 two teams withdrew from participating in the league due to various reasons, bringing down the participating teams to six for the 2018 season.
Ceres-Negros FC ruled the first two PFL seasons. The league also launched the Copa Paulino Alcantara, earlier this year with Kaya FC Iloilo lorded over the competition.