MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals are back home after their successful stint in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.
The Azkals secured their best finish ever in the tournament, beating Palestine in the battle for third.
Striker Phil Younghusband also received the Golden Boot award after scoring six goals, the most in this year’s tournament.
“Masayang masaya ako, pero nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng teammates ko kasi kung wala sila, imposible 'to,” Younghusband said in an interview with ABS-CBN’s Dyan Castillejo.
Angel Guirado, who scored two goals for the Philippines, added that their third place finish would not have been possible without their team work.
“Talagang team work ang nangyari kaya kami nanalo,” he said in Spanish.
His brother, Juani, was also complimented for his goal during the Palestine game.
“Yes, my first goal is important. But what’s more important is the union of the team... maraming salamat,” he said.
The Azkals made a two-hour stopover in Cebu to meet some of their fans before heading to Manila on Tuesday afternoon.
Team manager Dan Palami was thankful for the reception accorded by their followers.
“We are happy to be back, there's no place like home. Tayong mga Pilipino 'pag nakakabalik sa bansa natin, talagang masayang masaya. That's why we're quite happy with the reception that we received here and, of course, being back kung saan kami belong,” said Palami.
Palace congratulates Azkals
Meanwhile, Malacañang commended the Philippine football team for its accomplishments in Nepal.
In a statement, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the team exceeded the expectations of its peers.
“The Aquino administration believes this is an attitude that all Filipinos can learn from and apply. Our Philippine Azkals have made all of us believe that when the Filipino remains dedicated, and works hard, then our country can continue enjoying success, both on and off the football pitch,” she said.
Despite being pitted against formidable teams like North Korea, India and Tajikistan, the Philippine Azkals managed to slip into the semifinals.
The Filipino booters lost its semis match-up to Turkmenistan, but finished strong against Palestine to nab third place.
It is the highest finish ever for any Philippine team in international football.
ABS CBN News
12 hours ago