Azkals eye rare crown on home turf
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals will have the opportunity to be crowned champions tonight when they face Chinese-Taipei in the finals of the Philippine Football Peace Cup at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Unbeaten in their first two matches against Guam and Macau, the Azkals are tipped to win again and raise the trophy in the four-nation tournament also known as the Long Teng Cup.
By this time, Azkals supporters must have t-shirts proclaiming the Azkals as champions readied.
With six points in two matches, clean sheets for Azkals goalie Edward Sacapano, the Azkals only need a draw to win it all against the Chinese-Taipei squad that has four points on one win and a draw.
But the Azkals won’t settle for a draw.
“This may be just the Long Teng Cup but we will try to win it. It will be the first international title for the Azkals. It will also be my first,” said Denis Wolf.
Wolf scored a hat-trick in the Azkals’ 5-0 win over Macau the other night. He bled from the forehead after an early scramble but said after the victory he felt no pain.
“It happened so fast I don’t even remember. It doesn’t hurt,” said the 29-year-old Fil-German who will have a bulls-eye on his back when the final match is played.
A crowd bigger than the previous days is expected to troop to the historic stadium to root for the Azkals, runners-up to Hong Kong in last year’s Long Teng Cup in Taipei.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss sounded a little bit concerned about Azkals’ condition after giving their all in the first two matches.
“We will have to see if our fitness level is as I hope it would be,” said Weiss.
“But I think we still have something in the tank. The important thing is we’re in good position because a draw is enough for us,” he said.
While he’d seen marked improvement in the team since he took over the Azkals early last year, Weiss said he’d be happy to finally see a trophy in their hands.
He’s also counting on the support of the Filipino football fans.
“I hope the stadium will be full. I hope the people will come and we’ll have a full stadium and then get this trophy after a long, long while for the Philippines,” Weiss added.
The Chinese-Taipei coach said they will give it their all.
“We know this is a Peace Cup but our aim is to win the championship. It will be very difficult but we’ll try,” he said.