Friday, May 30, 2014

LAST AFC Challenge Cup (2014)

Yes, you read that right! It's the last!

Philippine Azkals just lost the AFC Challenge Cup 2014 to Palestine by a free kick! (anger)

And people on twitter are trying to look smart (or probably just as the usual delusional Filipino character when loosing) by false-hopedly creating a trend:
2012 - 3rd place
2014 - 2nd place
2016 - Champions?

And Im like: umm yeah, cuz in some other alternate timelines there'll be a 2016 AFC Challenge Cup.

Well, bad news, this is the last! There'll be no more redeeming this year that could have been. It should have been a motivation enough for the Azkals. But no, they don't know how to dribble! I'm actually a bit surprised they can actually move the ball. hahaha. I'd like to give more credit of the survival of the team to Phil and Muller. Those two deserve so much more than just a second place.

Don't get me wrong though. I was so thrilled for this team. With the absence of North Korea (which has World Cup experience) from the tournament, the title was up for grabs by any team really. It got everyone pumped up. And then of course we owned serious contenders: 2012 1st runner-up Turkmenistan and 2014 host Maldives. In the 2012 tournament, we actually beat Palestine for third place. So the title was looking more like Philippines' for the taking. And then of course free kick happened. And Rota doesn't know how to dribble. It was embarrassing!

With the dissolution of the AFC Challenge Cup, the Philippines' (and actually everyone's in Asia) only chance at Asian Cup is through a Qualifying Tournament. This will be tougher for PHL. And we might be waiting a long time before PHL debuts in Asian Cup. For anyone concerned, winning AFC Challenge Cup was actually the easiest route for countries categorized in the 3rd tier (or as what AFC calls "emerging nations"). For example, Philippines wasn't even given a chance to enter the Qualifying tournament for the 2015 Asian Cup. Plus, Asian Cup happens every four years. So by the next time the PHL team even gets a chance at entering the tournament (2019), Phil Younghusband would be 31! (and I would be mf 30!!!) So yeah, let's cry more for this chance lost...  T__T

So, with the AFC overhauling the Asian tournaments in the future, the only tournament that could keep the Azkals busy for the mean time is the AFF Suzuki Cup (biennial), which they can actually win if they have the right motivation and talents. If the FIFA rankings truly represents the goodness of right now, Vietnam is actually the only country above us in the AFF region. Other than that, chances at major international showing for PHL Azkals is looking bleak, save for the mediocre, special, selective, team-sponsored pseudo-tournaments.

But who knows? Maybe the Philippine team can actually make this lost tournament a turning point. Maybe we'll get more and better talents (but please save Phil and Muller). Maybe we'll get more funding. Maybe football will level with basketball and boxing as popular sports in the country. Maybe we'll dominate AFF. Or AFC. Maybe we'll debut in the Asian Cup sooner than we expect. There are a lot of maybe's for now. But each is a promise. Hey, each one has to build from ground up. For the mean time, Asian Cup 2015 is happening without a team from the Southeast Asia.

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