THE road to the World Cup is getting narrower and bumpier for the Philippine Azkals and they now need a miracle to reach the planet's biggest soccer stage.
After going down 0-3 in the second round's first leg of their Asian World Cup qualifier against Kuwait Sunday, the Azkals will have to come up with something special in the second leg of their qualifying match at the Rizal Football Stadium in Manila on July 28.
A team that waltzed past Sri Lanka in the first round is now facing elimination against a far more superior team in Kuwait, which hammered in three goals in the opening match to underscore its dominance on the turf.
By yielding three goals, the Azkals must at least score four goals and prevent the Kuwaitis from scoring in their home stand on July 28 if they hope to advance into the third round of the Asian qualifier.
This is easier said than done as the Kuwaitis clearly are the more skillfull booters. And what compounded the Azkals' woes was their failure to give Filipino-British strike Phil Younghusband support during counter-attacks.
Because they switched to defensive mode against the Kuwaitis, the Azkals often find Younghusband alone on top that minimized their scoring chances.
Though the Philippine side has some several good shots at the goal in the first half -- two right-footed blasts from Younghusband and Angel Guirado's header that hit the crossbar off a Chiffey Caligdong corner kick -- the Kuwaitis were in total control of the match. (CRAM)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 25, 2011.