National team, club teams taking Pinoy football to new heights
Santino Honasan on May 24, 2016 03:47 PM
The Philippine Azkals, Ceres-La Salle, and KAYA FC have done the Philippines proud this year
Around this time last year, the Philippine Azkals were gearing up for their World Cup/AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, and Global FC had made Pinoy club football history by being the Filipino club to compete in the AFC Cup.
Fast-foward to today, the Azkals may have bowed out of World Cup contention, but they managed to snag a third-place finish in their group by upsetting a tough North Korean side in their final Group Stage game, granting them entry to the third round of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. The national team’s recent success has propelled the Philippines’ FIFA ranking to 115th in the world, the country’s highest ranking ever.
It’s exciting to see how much better the national team can get, especially with the emergence of new faces on the squad, guys like Javi Patino, Iain Ramsay, and most recent revelation, Miguel Tanton, as well as the development of seasoned members such as skipper Phil Younghusband, Misagh Bahadoran, and Manny Ott. Plus, head coach Thomas Dooley has been signed to two more years with the national team.
While the next round of the Asian Cup Qualifiers won’t be until 2017, the Azkals will be heading back to the pitch towards the tail end of 2016, as the Philippines will be hosting the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup, which will pitt our national team against the best Southeast Asian football nations such as defending champions Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Last year, the Azkals made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to eventual champs Thailand. Surpassing that mark this year is a definite possibility.
In the club front, even more history as two Pinoy clubs, 2015 UFL Champions Ceres-La Salle, and 2015 UFL Cup Champions KAYA FC not only competed in the 2016 AFC Cup, but both teams managed to advance into the Knockout Stage. Ceres-La Salle was the first club in Filipino football history to advance into the AFC Cup Round of 16, and they were also the first Pinoy club to finish on top of their group.
This week, Ceres-La Salle and KAYA both face tough knockout games that will determine their future in the 2016 AFC Cup. Ceres takes on South China AA on Tuesday evening, while KAYA meets defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim, Wednesday evening.
Win or lose, these two clubs have definitely done their country proud by making Filipino club football history.
Global FC has already booked their ticket back to the AFC Cup. They will be representing the country again in the 2017 edition after winning the 2016 UFL Cup. The champions of the ongoing 2016 UFL Division 1 tournament will also join Global FC in the international tournament next year.
2016 has definitely been quite the year for Filipino football, and no doubt, things are bound to get even better in the future.