The Rajamangala Stadium could have witnessed another historic win by the once underdogs of Asian football but then again fate said “maybe not tonight.”
Many would agree that the game against the host country Thailand, was not one of our best night.
Even without the skillful simulated dives or the muay thai inspired defenses of the war elephants nor the questionable calls of the referee it was evident that the 2-1 scoreline was because of the team's lapses in defense and the lack of creativity on the field.
So now our squad find themselves in familiar territory with the daunting task of overcoming two Asian football powerhouse just to avoid elimination.
The pundits have said their piece. The casual fans and the cynics have already seen enough to make them throw the towel and walk away. So what's left to look forward to in the next few days for the true blue believers of the Azkals?
Armed and dangerous.
Like soldiers on a mission this team have spent months in training with one goal in mind.... winning. This team was not the same one that made the fairytale run last time but this is the squad that refused to bow down to Indonesia and dominated Singapore in recent friendly matches. And most importantly this is the same team who ended the 99 years of title drought of the Philippines by taking home the Peace Cup.
The Azkals might not be the team with the most title in this group but one cannot say that the squad lack the arsenal to win in this battlefield.
The deep bench
During the previous tournaments the team couldn’t even afford to lose a guy or two during the whole ninety minutes of the game. Substitution was rarely an option. Every member of the team was stretched to his full capacity just to make sure that the squad has a good chance of winning the game.
One would never thought that there would be a day that the coaching staff would have to contemplate on whether a player would start or come off the bench. Our team have all the talent and skills. The only thing that's missing is the cohesion on the pitch. If you have been following the Azkals long enough you would know that this had been a problem before but the coaching staff has managed to pull through to make the team perform beyond expectation.
Our never-say-die spirit
The Philippine Azkals were the revelation of the 2010 edition of the Suzuki Cup. They pulled a draw against the Lions of Singapore and the White Angels of Myanmar and unexpectedly beat Doi Tuyen Vietnam on their home turf. In all three games the team was never the favored side. But in the end the team managed to land in the semi finals. In the 2012 Challenge Cup, the Azkals lost to DPR Korea at the start of their campaign but in a wink of an eye they made a solid come back that gave them the bronze.
If there is one thing this team is never short of it is the composure in the most crucial moment to get up one more time and stomp their dominance during the dying minutes of the game.
So with that in mind who else would like to miss the nextgame?