This appears in the Thursday June 30, 2011 edition of the Business Mirror.
Azkals draw Brave Reds
by rick olivares pic by bob guerrero
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA -- The Philippines’ debut in World Cup play ended in a 1-1 draw with host team Sri Lanka at the Sugathadasa Stadium.
Nate Burkey, a late first half substitute for a hobbled Phil Younghusband, headed in a free kick by Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong in the 50th minute that gave life to an embattled Philippine side.
The Brave Reds struck first when midfielder Chathura Gunaratne scored off a powerful free kick from some 25 yards out that was deflected by central back Rob Gier into the Azkals’ goal.
The Azkals struggled early in a testy first half as both squads played physical. But after an altercation in 18th minute that saw midfielders Stephan Schrock and James Younghusband carded by Bangladeshi referee Shamsurraman Hassan after the former fouled Fazul Rahuman, the Philippines ironically gained control of the match. That is until Chathura’s stunning strike that nearly deflated the Philippine team.
But instead of folding, the Philippines came out after the lemon break with renewed intensity. Following Burkey’s goal, the Azkals saw several more chances including runs by Caligdong and a volley by Ian Araneta, who came in for Burkey, that was stopped by Sri Lankan goalkeeper Manjula Fernando who played brilliantly all match long.
Fernando, who minds the net for Blue Star SC in Sri Lanka, stopped three scoring chances by Younghusband.
But the Azkals’ very own Neil Etheridge was also up to the task at goal. In the 90th minute, Nimal caught the Azkals’ defense napping as he blasted a shot from just outside the box that the Filipino keeper successfully parried away.
The final outcome wasn’t what the Philippine team was expecting but the Nationals will have a chance to advance when they host Sri Lanka on July 3 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. In order for the Azkals to move on to play Kuwait, they have to win or hold the Brave Reds to a scoreless draw.
Notes: Three Azkals were given cautions: Stephan Schrock, James Younghusband, and Aly Borromeo. Fil-Dutch Paul Mulders started in place of regular left back Ray Jonsson who was unable to join the Azkals in Sri Lanka.