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A taste of sweet victory for Philippine Azkals

source: By Dennis Gasgonia and Barry Viloria,

MANILA, Philippines – Friday’s game was such a sweet victory for the Philippine Azkals who crashed into the 2012 Challenge Cup tournament finals by mangling the Bangladesh Bengal Tigers, 3-0.

Filipino booters traversed an arduous path toward the tournament proper, even surviving a series of earthquakes along the way.

After coming off two straight draws against Palestine and group stage host Myanmar, the Azkals were desperate for a win against Bangladesh.

The team played its cards right, surprising the Bengal Tigers with a relentless offense en route to a spectacular 3-0 victory.

Filipino-Spanish Angel Aldeguer Guirado played hero for the Azkals in that game, scoring 2 goals.

The Filipinos also received a great boost from Ian Araneta who struck the first goal during the first half.

The Azkals finished 2nd in the Group A bracket with a total of 5 points on 1 win and 2 draws, good enough for a trip to the 8-team Challenge Cup finals.

Good feeling
After their victory over Bangladesh, the Azkals expressed their gratitude to their adoring fans who closely followed their group stage games.

“Great win, good feeling, priceless!!! Thank you all for the support, couldn't have done it without you guys!” tweeted Azkals player Anton del Rosario.

“Heya all! Thank you for your support! Massive win! The team played well! Celebrations!” said goalkeeper Neil Etheridge through his Twitter page.

For Azkal Jason Sabio, it was a mission accomplished despite the criticisms coming from those who didn’t believe in them.

“Job done! AFC Challenge Cup here we come! We played amazing today. To the haters, that is how you man up! :) We are one We are Azkals! Boom,” tweeted Sabio.

“On to the final 8.. What a sweet victory! History in the books once more!! Thank you everyone for your undying support! :),” said team captain Aly Borromeo through his Twitter page.

Phil celebrates win
Azkals midfielder Phil Younghusband, who missed the group stage because of an injury, cheered his team for making history.

"Congratulations to the team for making history. They deserve this for all their hard work and even through difficult circumstances, we have shown the strength of a Filipino," he told

Younghusband, whose brother James was a vital cog in the group stage matches, said he was initially worried with the team going through a do-or-die match.

"I was watching the updates through ANC and Twitter and I was obviously nervous before the game," he said.

However, he said that his nervousness turned into glee as the Azkals finished the match with 3 goals.

"But each time a goal was scored. I was celebrating... I am so so happy and proud of the team," he continued.

World Cup
Meanwhile, Younghusband said he is excited for the team’s upcoming games in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

The Azkals will play against a still unnamed team this coming June.
"I am looking forward to the World Cup qualifiers," he said.


Final or in the doghouse: Azkals go for broke vs Bangladeshis

source: By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) 

update:  fulltime PHL 3-0 Bngldesh [link]

RANGOON – The Azkals won’t settle for anything less than a victory in today’s closing matches of the AFC Challenge Cup group stage here.

After two successive draws, the only hope for the Philippines team to advance into next year’s eight-team finals is to beat Bangladesh.

Coach Michael Weiss said that’s what they’re going to do.

“We have to win the match. If you want to succeed you cannot do it with draws. We must win this match,” he said yesterday.

The Azkals took it nice and easy in the morning then left for the pitch at around 3 p.m. and try to get a little more used to the searing heat.

The Azkals, with a handful players coming in from Europe for this group stage, have played two afternoon matches here.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, has played two evening matches, and the Filipinos are hoping that the heat would slow down the players from Bangladesh.

Bangladesh lost to Palestine, 2-0, last Monday then came back to beat Myanmar the other night, 2-0, for a total of three points.

The Azkals, on the other hand, have two points behind two draws with Myanmar and Palestine. A victory over Bangladesh will mean everything for them.

A loss, or even a draw, will slam the door on the Azkals, and give Bangladesh the ride to the next round.

In case of ties, the winner-over-the-other rule and eventually the goal difference will apply.
Whatever, Weiss said the Azkals should go for the win.

Simultaneously, Palestine plays Myanmar at the Youth Training Center.

Weiss is really hoping that the temperature, which could get as high as 37 degrees this afternoon, will favor the Azkals.

But he admitted that it has taken its toll on the Azkals as well, considering that at least five players in its lineup had just come from Europe or the United States where the weather is still cold.

“Three matches in five days are really very demanding. And I have players coming in from Europe so they cannot perform at the highest level. But I still hope the weather will be to our side,” he said.

The coach from Bangladesh, Robert Rubcic, thinks the same way, too.

“My team is very tired, very, very tired. We’ve played two games in three days and it’s been very difficult for my young players,” he said.

“That’s why it’s very difficult to say what will happen tomorrow. The Philippines has better individual players so I must change my tactic,” he said.

Bangladesh can fight for the draw, and just focus on defense, because that’s all they need to advance.

“It’s true. They might fight for the draw,” said Azkals skipper Aly Borromeo.

“That’s why we should go direct and put the pressure on them. Put the pressure on them right away and not hold back and wait for time. We’re all pumped up. It all boils down to this game,” he added.

“We should score early,” said defender Anton del Rosario.

But Rubcic said they always go for the win.

“We will go for it. We will try. Everybody in Bangladesh wants us to win,” he said during yesterday’s press conference.

Weiss listened, a few rows back, as the Bangladeshi coach took the microphone.

“I think our boys are more confident. Now they have to show that they deserve to be in the next round,” he said.


Philippines 0-0 Palestine


Yangon: Palestine took a step closer to the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup on Wednesday when they drew 0-0 with the Philippines to remain undefeated after two of their three qualifying Group A matches.

The Palestinians, who reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 edition, came closest to breaking the deadlock at the Youth Training Centre Stadium with Murad Eleyan, scorer of both goals in his side’s 2-0 win over Bangladesh in their qualification campaign curtain-raiser, hitting the post in the 18th minute.

The Azkals, meanwhile, struggled to get into their stride with their best effort of the match coming in the 64th minute when skipper Emelio Caligdong saw his close-range effort blocked before the 28-year-old’s Philippines Air Force team-mate Yanti Basrales, a 59th minute substitute for Ian Araneta failed to convert the rebound.

The Philippines, who conceded a stoppage-time goal to draw 1-1 with Myanmar in their opening match, take on Bangladesh on Friday while Palestine face a tough finale against the Group A hosts.


PBA: Gilas try to stay perfect vs short-handed Llamados


Pilipinas-Smart Gilas seeks its sixth straight win to land the first playoff berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.

And it couldn’t have come at a perfect time, as the Nationals face a Derby Ace Llamados side playing minus their best player in the 5 p.m. encounter.

The Llamados will miss the services of two-time Most Valuable Player James Yap for the second straight time, as the star shooting guard from University of the East continues to nurse a calf injury.

With Yap hurting, Derby Ace had to do without his vaunted outside shooting and lost to Meralco in its last outing, 89-86, in a game that saw the Llamados blow a huge 10-point lead in the final four minutes.

"Masakit na talo sa amin 'yun," admitted Derby Ace coach Jorge Gallent. "We only played good for 44 minutes and then nag-relax na. I just hope we can play aggressive basketball for the whole 48 minutes."

But the Llamados may just have a hard time doing what their coaches want. The team is decimated by injuries. Joining Yap on the injured list are back-up guard Jonas Villanueva (sprained ankle), and big men Jondan Salvador (knee), Don Allado (heel), and Raffi Reavis (foot).

The personnel woes definitely have a lot to do with Derby Aces' 2-4 record for a tie at sixth place.

And now the Llamados have to try to put it all together against the hottest team in the league.

The Nationals remained as the only undefeated team in the import-laden conference, their winning streak now at five games with their win against Rain or Shine, 99-94, last week.

JV Casio finished with a personal conference-best 29-points on 5-of-7 shooting from the three-point region, while Marcus Douthit had another double-double of 23 points and 18 rebounds.

Still, coach Rajko Toroman is not counting the Llamados out.

"Maybe they will be under pressure because they have to win. But they are a very strong team. They have talented and skilled outside players and strong inside players. It will be a difficult game for us but we will do everything to win," Toroman said.

Powerade and Meralco, two teams breathing down Derby Ace's neck, see action in the main game at 7:30 p.m.

The Tigers jumped back into contention for a playoff berth after rallying from a 14-point deficit to nip the struggling San Miguel Beermen, 99-91.

"We all understand the significance of this game. We are going to realize how strong our team character has become up to this point," Powerade coach Bo Perasol said.

Gary David exploded for 35 points in that huge Powerade win, making him the player who's definitely under the radar of Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio.

"David is a marked man," Gregorio said. "His production is even better than that of some imports. He must be contained at all cost."

The Bolts finally barged into the win column with that come-from-behind victory over Derby Ace courtesy of the hot shooting hands of Champ Oguchi in the fourth quarter.

And just like the last time, Gregorio said his team is taking its game against Powerade with a sense of urgency.

"Another do-or-die game for us," he said. "We can't afford to blink, we cannot relax and we must believe that it (advancing to the playoffs) an still be done despite our slow start. I am optimistic because we continue to show progress and our team unity is also getting tighter." - KY, RCJ, GMA News

Manny and Floyd to fight in court


Floyd Mayweather will fight Manny Pacquiao after all, but in a legal scrap between the unbeaten American and the Filipino superstar.

A federal judge denied a motion to dismiss the case in Las Vegas on Monday.

Pacquiao filed a defamation lawsuit against Mayweather, among others, that US district judge Larry Hicks ruled could proceed because there is sufficient evidence of malicious acts in accusing Pacquiao of being a dope cheat.

"The truth did not stop Mayweather and the others," Pacquiao's lawsuit contends. "That is because they are motivated by ill will, spite, malice, revenge and envy." 

"Mayweather and the others set out on a course designed to destroy Pacquiao's career, reputation, honour and legacy and jeopardise his ability to earn the highest levels of compensation." 

Pacquiao has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

In the 2009 lawsuit he claims that Mayweather, his father Floyd Sr and uncle Roger, promoter Oscar de la Hoya and his employee, Richard Schaefer, conducted a campaign in a set of interviews to make people think he used them.

"Defendants argue that Pacquiao has failed to sufficiently allege malice because defendants could not have known one way or the other whether Pacquiao had actually taken PEDs when they made the alleged defamatory statements," Hicks wrote in the order upholding the lawsuit. 

"However, the court finds that Pacquiao has sufficiently pled malice in the amended complaint." 

Mayweather and Pacquiao were in talks to stage a megafight between two of boxing's biggest stars but negotiations collapsed over demands by Mayweather that both fighters have blood and urine tests up to 14 days before the bout.

Pacquiao said he would feel weakened by blood tests within 24 days of the fight and would not agree to tests any closer to a bout.

Mayweather Promotions attorney Mark Tratos said he would continue to push for dismissal of the case, saying comments at the time were made about Pacquiao's hesitancy regarding blood tests and did not claim he was a dope cheat.

Pacquiao's attorney, Dan Petrocelli, said his client's career would suffer major damage if fans believed he used banned substances.

"Manny has an unblemished reputation and has earned all of his achievements through hard work and his natural-born talent. To call him a cheater is something he cannot and will not tolerate," Petrocelli said. 

"None of these defendants have had any evidence to back up the assertion that he has taken performance-enhancing drugs because he didn't." 

Mayweather, 34, faces an April 25 trial date on a battery charge over an altercation with a security guard for his homeowners association, who claims Mayweather poked him during a November argument regarding cars parking outside Mayweather's home.

The American also faces a court hearing on April 28 on domestic violence charges that could send the fighter to prison for up to 34 years in prison if convicted of all charges, which include felony counts of grand larceny, coercion and robbery.

He is accused of striking and threatening his former girlfriend Josie Harris, stealing her mobile phone and threatening two of their children in an incident on September 9.

Boxing fans have hoped that Mayweather, who has a record of 41-0 with 25 knockouts, would fight Pacquiao but Mayweather's legal woes have put such talk on hold.

Pacquiao, 52-3 with two draws and 38 knockouts and a winner of 13 fights in a row in the past six years, is set to face 39-year-old American Shane Mosley (46-6 with one draw and 39 knockouts) in Las Vegas on May 7.

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