History, Struggles, Come-backs
It has been a very long history when Philippines first officially entered the soccer fever which can be rooted out from the year 1913. It is where the Philippines first participated in the international soccer games hosted by the Far Eastern Championship games. The team continuously became very engaged with the sports and all of the events every year and every decade. There were ups and downs, wins and losses but one thing can be undeniable, the team was always as furious as a street dog. Blood, sweat and tears became the team’s foundation accompanied by a big heart with pure perseverance.
During the 2000s, Philippines started to get the struggles majorly and in 2006, they got their lowest rank in the FIFA World Rankings which is 195th which led to coach and player resignations. This also became one of the main reasons why they failed to qualify the major completions on the following years. This was a very sad news especially for a team who has all the passion to be one of greatest in their line of sports.
The team tried to maintain heart, energy, and perseverance until the 2010s came which led them to qualify in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup. All the reshuffling of players, coaches, and almost non-stop practice to their homeland, the team finally saw light and instantly pursued it. The team had a strong start that gave them successive wins, beating powerhouse nations, and recorded a major upset in soccer history against a powerful Vietnam team. Some Filipino fans called the game against Vietnam, “Miracle in Hanoi”, because of the sudden turn of events that favored the underdog, Azkals. It was a hard fought match up and everyone gave their best to get the victory everyone always wanted.
Year followed and it became a good path for the Azkals as they continue to gain wins, praises, and popularity given that they represent a nation where basketball was in the main picture of sports. The Azkals had very numerous notable wins from 2010 up to 2014. This was a very big leap from their recession period in the 2000s to very promising wins and positive winning trends in 2010.
- 2010 – qualified for 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup
- 2011 – first ever victory in FIFA World Cup qualification
- 2012 – first win in the AFC Challenge Cup, won the 2012 Philippine Peace Cup and made it to the semi-final of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup
- 2014 – defeated Indonesia since the 1934 Far Eastern Games
The team today is led by head coach Thomas Dooley and Captain Phil Younghusband. Dooley contributed greatly on the team’s improvement and best tournament performances. They even ended 2nd place at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup. Phil Young husband, aside from being the team captain, was also considered the best scorer of the team making big contributions to every victory the team has achieved.
The Next Steps
In April 2016, the Azkals moved up 19 spots in the FIFA Ranking and is now at 115th. This is an all-time high and the team is really on the right track to success. In line with this, the team continues to practice energetically and passionately, and according to local television news, Interaksyon, Dooley, the present head coach, will continue to lead the team for another two years as he signs his new contract with the team. They are now at the top spot in South East Asia so Dooley agrees to be part of the team until March 2018 and with all the passion, everyone is looking forward to achieve the higher ranks as possible.
The country is now expecting more victories from their promising team now that the head coach signed a contract extension. The Azkals are also scheduled to have friendly games with neighboring countries to maintain activeness in the field.