So I was watching our NT play against Indonesia and watching them play good football and win 4-0 inspired me to make this post so that people can get to know our little known NT better. (Asian football needs love too, you know!) I don't claim to be an expert on the team so this is not really going to be a well-written profile. But let me present some facts that I do know!
- The Philippine national football team are called the Azkals. It's a stylized version of the Filipino slang term 'askal' which is a portmanteau of 'asong kalye' which is Filipino for 'street dog,' hence the logo of a dog's head. Someone suggested that we be called Calle Azul (Streets of Blue. We are a nation colonized by the Spaniards after all) and that's also where the name Azkals came from.
- We are currently ranked #129 in the FIFA World Rankings. 129 out of the lowest possible 209. We are the highest-ranking Southeast Asian country. The 17th best in the AFC. We're ranked higher than New Zealand, Hong Kong, India, North Korea (which actually managed to qualify for the World Cup in 2010???) and just a few spots lower than Luxembourg, Jamaica, Belarus, etc.
- We're at the top of our group's table right now in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 and we've advanced to the semi-finals for the third year in a row!
- Our current coach is Tom Dooley. He is half-German, half-American, and he's been pretty awesome so far. He goes for a possession-based type of football but it's not boring when we're on the pitch because we play some good counter-attacking football as well. Maybe you might know him. He played for Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen in the 90s and he was part of the USMNT.
- Our current crop of players are very mixed. We have a lot of half-Englishmen, half-Germans, half-Japanese, etc. but it doesn't matter because they are 100% Filipino at heart. <3
- The win against Indonesia was a big deal to us because they've almost always kicked our butts but now we're kicking their butts!
- Paulino Alcantara, a Filipino-Spaniard, was Barcelona's highest goal-scorer for the longest time until his record was finally broken by... you guessed it... Lionel Messi. (Read more about him here)
- The English introduced football into the Philippines just a few years before the Battle of Manila Bay which happened in 1898. (Yes, we've been playing football longer than Real Madrid or Barcelona was even born!) but the first official match didn't happen until 1907. It was a contest for a trophy between some early football clubs in the Philippines. (I got this info from an old almanac I found in our school's library, published around the 1920s.)
- Football is unfortunately not a popular sport in this country. The two most popular sports are basketball and boxing. But football is getting there and I hope my fellow countrymen could show a little more support for them!
- We have some pretty cute players:
Lord Misagh Bahadoran, half-Iranian, half-Filipino. He plays as a forward/winger. He's a subject of internet memes by Filipino fans. Probably because his name is LORD Misagh.
Patrick Deyto who is an awesome keeper, holy shit. Made a lot of good saves in the matches I've seen him play in. (He's also 100% Filipino!)
This is our OTHER keeper, Neil Etheridge. English-Filipino. Played for Fulham once and actually played in the Europa League! Currently plays for Oldham Athltic. He was in the same youth system as the Younghusband brothers (Chelsea). Started out a striker but then the coach told him to play as a keeper instead. He's having issues with Dooley right now so he wasn't called up.
Manny Ott, plays CM. He was born in Munich to a German father and a Filipina mother but he is 100% awesome.
Another German-Filipino is Stephan Schrock. He plays for the 2. Bundesliga side, SpVgg Greuther Fürth. He played for Hoffenheim and Eintracht for a time too. He's a midfielder and can also play fullback. He didn't get called up today either but I included him in case some of you might recognize him. He left the Azkals, sadly. :( Because of a row with our coach.
This is Rob Gier, a defender. Half-English. He's 33 fucking years old.
This is Mark Hartmann,
Quite possibly the reason why Filipino football became popular again!! James Younghusband is an English-Filipino. He spent his youth career in Chelsea.
LASTLY, one cannot talk about the Azkals without talking about our capitano, Phil Younghusband. He's James's brother and I'd consider him as sort of a talisman for our team. He played in the Chelsea youth system, too.
That's also SOME of the members of our team. For more info, you can read our Wiki page or go to the official website of the Azkals.
THAT'S ALL. Hope I didn't take too much of your time. :D We are a problematic but beautiful little country with a lovely little football team. Hopefully this post could get some Filipino lurkers come out of the darkness. >:D (Then maybe mrscrapbag and I wouldn't have to feel so alone. </////3)