Stephan Schröck-Azkals-Ceres-Negros-AFF-ASEAN-Best11

Azkals captain Stephan Schröck earns ASEAN Best XI plaudit

Fresh from being confirmed as the best creator in the recently concluded AFC Cup 2019 with his tournament-leading six assists, Philippine Azkals captain and Ceres-Negros midfield engine Stephan Schröck earned further citation after being included in AFF’s ASEAN Best XI.

The awarding happened during the AFF 2019 Awards Night which was held in the evening of November 8 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Aside from bagging the most number of assists in the continental tourney for Ceres-Negros, Schröck also helped his club win the Philippines Football League for the third straight time since the league’s inaugural season, with the latest 2019 title achieved without suffering a single defeat, as the busmen earned the Invincibles moniker that is traditionally reserved for teams that completed an undefeated league campaign.

With the Philippines Football League already secured, Stephan’s club Ceres-Negros FC are still on track in their bid to win the Copa Paulino Alcantara for a chance to achieve an unprecedented double in Philippine football’s professional era.

Completing the rest of the ASEAN Best XI with Stephan Schröck are Dang Van Lam (Vitenam/Muangthong Utd), Muhammad Syahmi Safari (Malaysia/Selangor FA), Que Ngoc Hai (Vietnam/The Cong FA), Muhammad Safuwan Baharuddin (Singapore/Pahang), Korrakot Wiriya-Udomsiri (Thailand/Buriram Utd), Mohamed Syamer Kutty Abba (Malaysia/Johor Darul Ta’zim), Sanrawat Dechmitr (Thailand/Bangkok Utd), Riko Simanjuntak (Indonesia/Persija Jakarta), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Malaysia/Pahang), and Player of the Year Nguyen Quang Hai (Vietnam/Hanoi FC).

The Filipino international’s recent achievement is just the latest of a milestone-laden year as he captained the Philippine Azkals’ first ever campaign in the Asian Cup early this 2019 where he became the first ever goalscorer for the Philippines.

Photo credit: Stephan Schröck Instagram


Former Azkals Head Coach Thomas Dooley to write a book and set up academy in the Philippines

In a Facebook post, former Philippine Akals head coach and former US Soccer MNT captain Thomas Dooley is in the process of authoring his own book, while at the same, time building a football academy in the Philippines that aims to help the country qualify for the World Cup.

Without divulging much about the details about the book, Coach Dooley – who guided the Azkals towards their first ever Asian Cup qualification – informed that it will be more of either a memoir or an autobiography in nature.

Thomas Dooley, aside from being the national team’s former head coach and a former captain of the US Soccer Men’s National Team [who featured in the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cup tournaments], also played club football mainly as a defender in the German Bundesliga where he became a multi-titled player in the process by winning the 1990 DFB Pokal [Germany’s equivalent to the League Cup], the 1990-91 German Super Cup and the 1990-91 German Bundesliga title with 1. FC Kaiserslautern, while adding the UEFA Cup in 1996-97 with Schalke 04.

He also played in the USA’s Major League Soccer for clubs Columbus Crew and New Jersey Metro Stars [now known as New York Red Bulls] in the latter part of his already stellar career.

Aside from the book, the coach [in an interview with Radyo Pilipinas 2 show “Sports Eye” last January 23, 2019] also has a plan for 2026 which is to help the Philippines qualify for the World Cup by working at the youth level through putting together a football academy which will be free for the players.

“I don’t want an academy for the rich people. [I want it] for [finding] the [right] quality [of players],” Thomas Dooley shared.

“I think there is a huge market over here for football. That’s why I think if we do the right thing in the future, we can create a football culture in this country and if I can do that in my spare time or even full-time, then I would be happy,” added Thomas Dooley.

Thomas Dooley began his tenure as the head coach of the Philippines’ senior football team in February 2014 on a one-year contract. A run of encouraging results earned him two more extensions that ran until March 2018.

Although even after guiding the Philippine National Football Team to its first ever Asian Cup, Dooley’s contract was never renewed or extended.

In spite of his direct involvement with the Philippines coming to a close, the coach opted to stay in the country and be more involved in the youth level via the building of the aforementioned academy in which the venue is still being deliberated and yet to be finalised.

“I’ve been here [in the Philippines, for the past] five years [and] I haven’t left,” shared the coach to Radyo Pilipinas 2.

“I love it over here. I could go back to the US or maybe in Germany… [but] I always want to live here.”


OPINION: Takeaways from the Azkals’ maiden AFC Asian Cup campaign

The Philippine Azkals came up short in mounting a miracle amd extending their participation in their historic AFC Asian Cup 2019 participation after suffering a 3-1 defeat against Kyrguz Republic last January 16 in Dubai.

As the Azkals start to pack their bags ahead of their return home, here are some takeaways from their debut tournament:

The FIFA rankings prevailed in Group C

There are no surprises or upsets in the Azkals’ group as perennial World Cup participants South Korea claim a perfect haul of points with nine followed by continental sleeping giants China who notch up six points as Kyrgyz Republic round up the haul with three from a solitary win against the Philippines who end the campaign winless.

The Azkals came into the tournament as outsiders being a newly emerging football nation and the lowest-ranked country in Group C.

After an almost surprise debut match – coming close to shutting out highly rated South Korea towards a narrow 1-0 loss with a laudable defensive effort by Sven-Goran Eriksson’s wards, the Philippines dropped their following games to bow out of the first phase of the competition.

Reality check for the Philippines

The Azkals’ capability to qualify really raised the hopes of Filipino football fans heading into the tournament dreaming for at least one positive result.

However, as the Philippine team’s official tournament slogan “To Dream the Impossible” seems to ring true, it pretty much was a mountainous task as the squad signed off without getting a point and a “-6” goal difference with only Stephan Schrock’s consolation goal against Kyrgyz Republic [more on that later] the only shot from the team that found the back of the net.

Despite a promising opening match against South Korea that ended in just a 1-0 loss amidst predictions of a lopsided result in favor of the Taeguk Warriors, the following two matches ended in 3-0 [against China] and 3-1 [against Kyrgyz Republic] losses. 

Such campaign results raise one aspect to improve on: Creating and scoring chances. Defensively, the Philippines were already generally sound [save maybe in the first half of their last fixture against Kyrgyz Republic]. But the midfield and frontline still needs to get better in terms of their understanding with each other when it comes to attacking and finishing to score goals. 

Stephan Schrock pulled off another impossible goal

The Philippine Azkals’ star midfielder, Stephan Schrock, scored another magical goal right at the 80th minute off a free kick from way out.

The goal  proved to be just a consolation though with the opposing team already well in command with three goals in the bag already and with only roughly thirteen minutes left in the match. It also proved to be the only goal of the Philippines in their Asian Cup debut which is now etched in history – a great individual feat.

That special serving by Schrock was reminiscent of the one he scored in another losing effort against Uzbekistan last September of 2015 in a World Cup qualifier match.

Time and time again, the Ceres-Negros gem has proven that he is the man for the occasion, pulling off goals from out of nowhere.

But with these two amazing goals, I just hope in the near future that Schrock scores off another mind-boggling effort in different circumstances – with the squad winning rather than losing.

On Sven-Goran Eriksson

From the time he took the reigns as the Azkals’ head coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson amassed two wins, two draws and five losses [2W, 2D, 5L – friendlies not included]. It’s obviously not an ideal run of results but it is to note that he has only been on board as of late October 2018 on a six-month contract which is too short for a national team coach to really impose his system.

His contract is set to end late April 2019, and maybe that’s the only time that he is able to really start getting to instill his managerial and coaching “signature” to the squad but with him mentoring the Akals, it is no surprise that many overseas-based and local Filipino players are keen to be called up to the national team just to have a chance to play under the multi-titled coach.

I personally do hope he extends his handling of the team, but in the end, the decision is his to make.

The end of the “Azkals Golden Generation”?

Stephan Schrock, Phil and James Younghusband, Javier Patino, Carli De Murga, Patrick Reichelt, and Alvaro Silva – These are some of the players who are currently 30-years-old and above and could see their playing days for the Azkals get shorter every match day.

These players have indeed been on a league of their own as they contributed their part immensely to Philippines’ climb in terms of its reputation as a footballing nation and their services will be missed once they hang up their boots when it comes to international duty.

But despite the impending end of an era, a new batch of talents are waiting to take their place and the pool of potentials is slowly increasing as they jostle for position in terms of callups.

From already reputable young players such as Amani Aguinaldo, Marco Casambre, Paolo Bugas, Paolo Salenga, Curt Dizon, Luke Woodland, John-Patrick Staruss and Mike Ott [to name some] to potentials, both local and foreign-based, such as Javier Gayoso, Michael Kempter, Oliver Bias, JB Borlongan and Joshua Grommen [to name a very few], the conveyor belt is already set for the next generation of Azkals who will play along new leaders by then such as Manny Ott, Neil Etheridge, Michael Falkesgaard and Daisuke Sato.

But the main concern now is we hope we get to see more matches [friendly matches in particular] when it comes to our junior squads for AFF/AFC competitions such as U-23, U-19, U-16, and U-14 [not to mention the women’s team and their junior counterparts] because those are where talents get developed and honed at an international level in preparation for being able to compete in tournament qualifiers.

In conclusion

The AFC Asian Cup 2019 stint of the Azkals has been a massive achievement already for a nation of such a profile when it comes to the greater schemes in the world of football. Here’s to hoping Philippine football make the most of it and sustain such level of competitiveness from this point onwards.

Photo credit: AFC Asian Cup


Asian Cup 2019: Where to watch The Azkals’ definitive match vs Kyrgyz Republic in the Philippines

On January 16, 2019 the Philippine Azkals will face Kyrgyz Republic in their final group stage match to determine if they’ll survive to the knockout phase as one of the best third placers in their maiden Asian Cup appearance.

After Sven- Goran Eriksson’s men lost their first two assignments against powerhouses South Korea and China, the fixture against Kyrgyz Republic will serve as their last chance in a bid to extend their participation in Asia’s highest level of international football competition.

Such magnitude of a challenge ahead is something that Filipino football fans should definitely not miss out, and with the fixture available only via cable television broadcast through FOX Sports 2 and streaming via FOX+, here are some of the venues in key cities around the country where fans could gather as a group and witness the Azkals’ last match in Group C with the hopes of progressing to the knockouts:


Kalye Sports Pub and Restaurant:Stalls 25-28, 2nd Floor, Wilcon City Center, Visayas Ave.
Quezon City

Malingap Central Food Hall: #40 Malingap Street, Teacher’s Village East, Diliman Quezon City


Buffalo Wild Wings Pasig:Estancia Mall, Camino Verde Road, Pasig City


Howzat Sports Bar: 8471 Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City

H&J Sports Bar and Restaurant: Felipe Street 5781, Makati City [Hosted by Football Manila]

Kublai’s Rock: Paseo De Magallanes, Makati City


Skinny Mike’s Sports Bar: 2nd Street & Justicia Drive, BGC Fort, Taguig


First Five Sports Lounge and Cafe: Go Home Bldg, 341 F. Cabahug St, Cebu City


Hat Trick Sports Grill: The Marketplace, Circumferential Road Bacolod City


JT’s Manokan Grill Davao: Zone C Unit 6, Damosa Gateway, Damosa Complex, Lanang
Davao City

Kyrgyz Republic vs Philippines Asian Cup 2019 Group C match kicks off at 9:30PM [Philippine Standard Time] to be held at Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai and will be shown LIVE on FOX Sports 2 and FOX+ via streaming.

It’s time to gather once again as fans in support of the Philippine National Football Team!

Photo credit: The Azkals


Asian Cup: Quick thoughts on the Azkals’ 3-0 loss against China

After witnessing the Philippine Azkals’ 3-0 defeat at the hands of China in their second assignment in the Asian Cup, here are some quick take and views on the match.

It was a much bitter pill to swallow compared to the loss in the opener against South Korea given the hope that that particular match has provided heading into the clash against Marcello Lippi’s men. But in the end, it seemed the odds prevailed as an upset – a monumental draw at least – did not materialise.

Sensational Wu Lei – The difference

China’s forward Wu Lei has scored two majestic goals that went unanswered that proved pivotal for his squad in getting their second win on the bounce at the expense of the Philippines.

The first goal in the 40th minute virtually came out of nowhere as the Shanghai SIPG target-man unleashed a shot at a place and time that caught the defence unprepared.

It seemed an ill-advised attempt in which standard thinking would opt for a cross rather than a shot, but the effort was so good that it had enough power and dip to evade Michael Falkesgaard and find the back of the net.

The second goal from the same player in the 66th minute was top-class in terms of skill, as Wu Lei produced a spectacular volley from a set-piece delivery that had more than enough power and speed to beat Falkesgaard once again.

China’s third goal in the 80th minute proved to be just the icing on the cake as it could have been dealt much better by the Philippines’ defence.

I feel for the Azkals’ frontline

Even before the match, the Azkals were expected to have a much fewer number of chances than China, and it showed.

But with what few opportunities that were created by Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men, they ended up either being saved, blocked or missing the target.

China were able to frustrate the Azkals on the final third because the latter were only able to muster four shots, with none going on target as the statistics have shown [even Kevin Ingreso’s 1st half injury time shot was palmed away by Yan Junling even before it could be determined if the trajectory would shift down into target].

What’s next? Kyrgyz Republic

After the loss against China and with South Korea only mustering a goal in their win over Kyrgyz Republic, the Philippines see themselves at the bottom of Group C.

For now, as their third match of the campaign awaits on Wednesday, the Azkals should focus on recovery in the best possible way for them to be able to get a result against their last group phase opponents – regardless of their chances of getting into the knockout rounds.

For the squad, and the Filipino football fans, January 16 is gonna be the game of OUR lives!

Photo credit: AFC Asian Cup


Asian Cup: Azkals vs China -Viewing venues in Metro Manila and other key cities

Are you currently in Metro Manila and would like to watch the Philippine Azkals’ AFC Asian Cup 2019 match against China with other football fans on January 11?

Sometimes, watching a football match with other fans is a far better experience than watching it in the comforts of one’s home. So here are some venues where you could catch the crucial fixture within Metro Manila.

Note: This is not a comprehensive and complete list, but the venues mentioned have high probability that the atmosphere will be a good one due to the presence of football fan groups. Also, this is not a paid endorsement or advertisement of sorts.

Kalye Sports Pub and Restaurant

Situated along Visayas Avenue, this is quite a spacious place which is a hangout for Quezon City-based football fans who would like to witness a match or two with their friends while enjoying food and drinks.

Of course, Azkals matches are sure to be featured so this is a definite place to check out!

Kalye Sports Pub and Restaurant is located at Stalls 25-28, 2nd Floor, Wilcon City Center, Visayas Ave.Quezon City, Philippines. Business hours are everyday from 10AM to 2AM the following day.

Howzat Sports Bar

Located along Kalayaan Avenue, Makati, Howzat is one of the usual places for football fans in the city, both locals and expats, to hangout and catch a game of football on TV.

Howzat Sports Bar [according to their Facebook page] is open from 9AM to 2AM the next day, but their business hours can extended depending on the matches being featured.

Address: 8471 Kalayaan Avenue, Makati

Buffalo Wild Wings [Pasig branch]

With several branches within Metro Manila, it’s most probable that the one in Estancia Mall in Pasig is the one where you’ll find football fans due to its proximity to the Philippine Football Federation’s headquarters – The PFF House of Football.

Buffalo Wild Wings Pasig is located at Estancia Mall, Camino Verde Road, Pasig City.

Kublai’s Rock

Located at Magallanes, Makati City, Kublai’s Rock is where most of Ultras Filipinas are going to watch and show their support for the Azkals.

Kublai’s Rock is located at Paseo De Magallanes, Makati City.

BONUS: Where to watch outside Metro Manila

Of course, this will also include some venues in key cities outside the metro for those who are interested to watch the match.

Bacolod: Hat Trick Sports Grill

If you are a football fan and you happen to be in Bacolod, Hat Trick Sports Grill should not be missed in your itinerary.

Hat Trick Sports Grill is located in The Marketplace, Circumferential RoadBacolod City

Butuan City: City Hall Grounds

Now football fans in Butuan City are in for a real treat as a public viewing will be held in their City Hall Grounds.

Butuan City Hall is located at Jose Rosales Ave, Butuan City, 8600 Agusan Del Norte

So that it for now. Of course, this is not a complete list with several venues still missing.

But if you think there are other worthy places to visit in order to watch and show support for the Azkals in their match against China, feel free to add them in the comments section.

Philippines vs China Asian Cup 2019 Group C match is scheduled to kick off on January 11, at 9:30PM Philippine Standard Time.

Live telecast of the match via cable is on FOX Sports channel .

Photo credit: The Azkals Facebook Page

The new ‘crisp’ Azkals kits have dropped! But I have one request…

The new kits for the Philippine Azkals’ on-going maiden and historic AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign have finally been released for purchase to the public last January 8.

Note: This is post is not for promotional or advertising purposes but a fan service for those who are into, or are interested in, football kits of the Philippine national football team.

And the finished products exhibit clean and classic looks that seem would never go out of style – befitting a milestone debut participation by the national squad in the continental stage.

Here are some images of both home and away designs that will hit the shelves:

Player edition pic: The ones in shop do not have player numbers and names and have slight differences in the tournament patches.
Player edition pic: The ones in shop do not have player numbers and names and have slight differences in the tournament patches.

The Azkals kits [home and away] are available as of this writing in Bootcamp Bonifacio Global City [BGC] store and are sold at Php 1,700 each.

For those opting to add a customised nameset, an additional Php 300.00 will be charged with the shirt to be claimed approximately 1 week after.

But I have one request [a wish]…

Can these kit designs be also the same for the women’s national team and the junior teams we have?

Because through the years [in recent past until now], each national team have their own kit designs [and supplier].

Such a situation when it comes to football in the Philippines is quite different compared to most other nations where their teams share the same design [or at least brand/supplier] when it comes to their outfits.

England released their new outfits for almost all squads
A video on US Soccer’s third kit release in men and women’s variants

I don’t know how the powers that be in Philippine football handle such football equipment supplier matters for different teams, but it most probably is complex [I hope I’m wrong]. But a question comes to mind: Do we really need to make such things complicated?

I do hope in the near future, if there are new kits that will be unveiled, they will be known not just as Azkals kits, but as Philippine National Football Team kits.

Because in the end of it all, we are ONE TEAM – PILIPINAS!

Photo credits: LGR Sportswear

Azkals Asian Cup 2019 focus: Massive defence against South Korea

The Philippines may have began their AFC Asian Cup 2019 debut campaign with a 1-0 loss. Despite that, the result actually surpassed expectations, as the Azkals proved the naysayers, doubters and oddsmakers – who predicted a lopsided win for the superior South Koreans – wrong.

Behind that result was a resolute defending by Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men. This aspect makes this discussion focus on the defence, namely the back four consisting of Luke Woodland, Alvaro Silva, Stephan Palla, Daisuke Sato and goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard.

An almost impenetrable backline

The Azkals’ defence has been tested for most of the match. Even with most of the Azkals retreating in their own half for the most part, the back four still had a very busy day. But in spite of that and the one-sided predictions, the Philippine backline were able to hold fast for the most part.

First up is Stephan Palla, who was able to shine on the clearances department as he was able to clear more than a handful of threatening deliveries by the opposition.

Next is Daisuke Sato, who had been a constant defensive live-wire and a bridge as well towards mounting a counter-attack from the left part of the pitch. He also was able to pull off [maybe] a clean tackle or two.

For Luke Woodland, most of his contributions came from some timely blocks that he was able to pull-off denying some possible goal-bound shots in favour of the Taeguk Warriors. His excellent positioning in some of those dangerous plays helped the Azkals keep themselves well in the match.

Goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard meanwhile was able to thwart almost all of maybe a handful of shots he faced from the Taeguk Warriors, save for one – Hwang Ui-jo’s 67th minute winning goal.

Lastly, Alvaro Silva who most definitely was the man of the match – with striker Javier Patino probably an honourable mention – came up with a stellar performance as he won a good amount (more than a handful for sure) of duels he has encountered. Aside from that, Alvaro definitely produced the most number of timely clearances. Alas, his mistimed sliding attempt to intervene with Hwang Hee-chan’s delivery led to the winning goal.

But an almost bonus contribution on the other end, Alvaro Silva came close to producing the equaliser for the Azkals in the 79th minute, if only he was able to come up with a better contact with the ball via a header off a corner-kick from substitute winger Iain Ramsay.

Disciplined defending at a high order

Despite numerous amount of attempts and sustained pressure from the South Koreans, the Philippines’ defence stood firmly while showing maybe the highest level of discipline and constraint that the team were able to recently, as no defender suffered a booking in the course of the whole match.

Now that’s a boon for the squad as the starting defenders carry no cautions heading into another daunting assignment against current Group C leaders China on Friday, January 11, in Abu Dhabi.

Photo credits: The Azkals Facebook Page

Daisuke Sato Adam Reed Azkals Asian Cup 2019

Azkals Daisuke Sato and Adam Reed show their new boots for Asian Cup 2019

As the Philippine Azkals gear up for their first match of their watershed AFC Asian Cup 2019 campaign tonight against South Korea, Daisuke Sato and Adam Reed post on their social media accounts their new cleats for the tournament.

Note: This piece is not for product endorsement or advertising purposes but as a fan service for footballers of all levels who are very much into football boots and football equipment.

Daisuke Sato – Position: Defender, Club: Sepsi OSK [Romania], Boots: Adidas Copa 19.1 FG

During the recent AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign, left-back Daisuke Sato wore either X18.1 Spectral Mode or X17 + Purespeed boots by the same manufacturer, but it seems Adidas Philippines got him some mint Copa 19’s to don for the biggest tournament in his international footballing career.

Featuring kangaroo leather upper material that is lightweight and has an excellent feel preferred by footballers who opt for more classic, yet top-end performance boots.

This particular model can be found in select Adidas shops in Metro Manila and in Bootcamp stores also within Metro Manila and in Cebu.

Adam Reed – Position: Defender, Club: formerly of Davao Aguilas FC, Boots: Nike Mercurial Vapor 360 Elite

Adam Reed recently just rocked Adidas X’s during the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign. But it seems he just made a switch ahead of the Asian Cup as he just posted in his social media account that he is going to be wearing Nike Mercurials joining the likes of fellow Azkals Patrick Reichelt, Jovin Bedic and Iain Ramsay to name a few.

Focusing on being lightweight to aid in adding speed to players, Mercurial Vapors feature Nike flyknit upper materials for a combination of a nice fit and excellent ball-touch.

Nike Mercurial Vapors can be bought at Bootcamp stores.

Photo credits: Daisuke Sato and Adam Reed’s Instagram stories


Patrick Reichelt: Azkals wingman who leads the line

Through the years, Patrick Reichelt has been one of the Philippine Azkals who have consistently exemplified a very good balance of industry and ability.

Time and time again, he he has proven that he is capable of serving one quality performance after another reminding everyone of his immensity for the Philippine squad.

Source: Patrick Reichelt Facebook page

Probably the only thing that hampered him from contributing more for the Azkals, whether through goals or assists was his lengthy bout with an ACL injury he suffered back in 2016 that deprived him a sustained series of call-ups to the squad.

But for Ceres-Negros, a club where he was able to earn his longest tenure – even in the midst of his lengthy recuperation from the mentioned injury – he was able to be one of the club’s main heroes along with the likes of Manuel Ott, Stephan Schrock and Bienvenido Maranon.

Once he recovered back to fitness in 2017, he was able to earn back his place in the busmen’s lineup. His ability to regain his full array of talents eventually made him ease his way for a return to the Azkals come 2018 as a winger with the license to probe further forward as a support striker.

An attacking type of player, Patrick Reichelt can operate as a forward or a winger from either flank, with the right part of the pitch being his usual assigned area as of late.

His pace, dribbling, and the ability to pull off a perfectly weighted cross or through ball towards his strike partners to pounce upon are his staple offerings that make him an indispensable part of the Azkals’ offensive line.

But one of the more underrated aspects of his game is his ability to finish from up close with his composure and the presence of mind and coolness to opt for “passing” towards the net rather than pulling off a “blaster” if presented a situation when the goal is at his mercy.

His latest great moments did arrive in the recently concluded AFF Suzuki Cup where he was able to come up with two goals in the campaign [against Singapore and Vietnam] that made him the only Azkal to pull off the feat and be the team’s tournament top scorer in effect.

During the losing effort in the semifinal first leg against eventual Suzuki Cup winners Vietnam, Patrick Reichelt showed his disappointment – despite scoring a goal – as the Azkals were not able to capitalise at home which showed how much the tournament meant for him.

True enough, the Azkals were duly eliminated in the away leg in Hanoi with the odds already heavily stacked against them against a quality side with a partisan crowd in favour of their rivals.

But as the Philippines are about to embark on their biggest tournament yet, with a complete lineup available for the whole tournament, the true capabilities of the squad is about to be tested fair and square.

Underdogs the Azkals maybe heading into the Asian Cup 2019, but one player in their ranks who could definitely rise up to the occasion as one of the leaders up front is their mercurial hitman lurking in the right flank, Patrick Reichelt.