The Azkals' 12th man came through when it mattered most
Santino Honasan on Mar 28, 2018 01:56 AM
The Philippine Azkals show their appreciation to their '12th man'
During the biggest match of their careers as members of the national team, the Philippine Azkals did their jobs, took care of business, and earned a spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after grinding out a 2-1 win over Tajikistan, Tuesday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football stadium.
Off the pitch, the Azkals' proverbial 12th man also came through in a huge way.
While the Azkals matches aren’t always packed houses, so to speak, Tuesday night was different.
Filling up a the space that was made available at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila, an estimated 4600 people were on hand to witness the Azkals make Philippine football history.
From the opening whistle to the final play, the 4600 strong were there, cheering their Azkals on.
And while compared to the attendance that volleyball or basketball events draw in the country, 4600 people may not seem much.
For the Azkals however, especially on this night, it was more than enough to give the Pinoy side the boost that they needed.
When the Azkals fell a goal behind in the second half, instead of keeping quiet, the Azkals faithful kept cheering and cheering until.
When the Azkals pulled even, the place exploded, and the cheers just got louder from then on.
“That’s what we have hoped for. Looking up them cheering even when we’re going 1-0 down, every tackle, every shot, that was the difference coming back.” Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband said of the massive crowd in attendance. “All the players were so appreciative who came to watch and support. They gave us the added push and confidence to comeback.”
Man of the Match Kevin Ingreso, who scored the all-important equalizer also gave his props to the fans, who he says pushed the Azkals to victory.
“I want to thank every single one who was in the stands today. We have to be thankful, it was outstanding today. They pushed us forward, even when we were down 0-1 they pushed us forward and it was a big factor.”
As for goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, he couldn’t help but get emotional after the big win.
The Filipino-British keeper recounted not being able to experience as big when he first suited up for the Philippine national team.
“Ten years ago I joined the team, and Phil and James were a little bit before me, we didn’t have this, and I wanna thank all the fans, all them, it’s amazing, we couldn’t have done it without them tonight, because we were one-nil down, and they still got behind us,”
When it was all said and done, the Azkals made sure to show their appreciation by applauding the fans in the stands as they all relished the historic moment.
Over four thousand people were on hand to see history, Tuesday night.
As the Azkals prepare to step on to the biggest stage they’ve ever been on, expect even thousands more to come along for the ride.