BACOLOD CITY — The Azkals has kept its winning streak in the Visayas Region (now at 10 wins) after their fantastic second half performance last night to retain their Peace Cup title at the Panaad Park and Stadium here in Bacolod City.
The home squad trailed 1-nil in the early part of the match after Kaleem Ullah escaped his defender Jerry Barbaso at the top of the penalty box, and sent the ball past Fil-British keeper Neil Etheridge in the early 15th minute. But, the Azkals had shown their hearts before the thousands of Filipino believers present at the Panaad Stadium as they continued to press hard on offense lead by Stephan Schrock, Misagh Bahadoran, Chris Greatwich and Patrick Reichelt. Their effort paid off as Reichelt finally nailed an equalizer in the 35th minute to end the break even at 1-all.
In the second half, Coach Hans Michael Wiess’ ward made lots of adjustments in both ends as the home squad remained aggressive – earning number of open look at the goal but failed to finish strong. Shrock, who played excellent performance, has created number of goal opportunities for his teammate but failed to score. With 1-all, the Filipino crowd stood still, and though was silent yet believed in the team. In the second half, the Azklas pushed the ball forward playing on ground until Greatwich found himself at the front of the goal and scored the national’s second in the 78th minute.
As the crowd roared and the loud drumbeats inside the stadium, the Azkals gained momentum as Pakistan defense tightened. However, Shrock has his night as he outsmarted his defender for the winning goal in the 88th minute. Team manager Dan Palami said that the crowd made a great difference in last night’s victory. “As you can see, Pakistan’s squad is down because nobody cheers for them,” he said. “We would like to thank Bacolod for the wonderful support they gave us,” he added. Meanwhile, Wiess noted that despite their victory last night, they still have lots of things to do in preparation for next year’s Challenge Cup in Maldives./