The Philippines has never won the AFC Challenge Cup, a tournament for developing and emerging football nations. In addition, no Southeast Asian country has ever won the said tournament. The Azkals can end both droughts with a victory over Palestine.
The Azkals are coming off a dramatic and highly emotional 3 – 2 win in extra time over host country Maldives during the semifinals last Tuesday (May 27). Phil Younghusband gave the Philippines the lead with his goal in the 19th minute before the Maldives leveled the score in the 33rd minute.
Jerry Lucena restored the advantage for the visiting Philippines three minutes later, but the Maldivians equalized in the second half with a goal off a corner kick in the 66th minute.
Chris Greatwich, who was the hero in the Azkals’ stunning win over Vietnam in the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, provided the game-winner as he tapped in a goal off a deflected shot from teammate Patrick Reichelt in the 104th minute.
The champion of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup will also earn an automatic berth to the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia, and will be bracketed in Group D together with Iraq, Jordan, and AFC Cup defending champion Japan.
The championship match between the Philippines and Palestine will be a rematch of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Third Place match in which the Azkals won, 4 – 3.
Will the Azkals’ run in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup end on a historic note? Find out as ABS-CBN Sports+Action begins the live coverage of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup Finals on Friday (May 30) at 11:30 PM with replay on Saturday (May 31) at 4 PM.
Want to relive the Azkals’ 2014 AFC Challenge Cup campaign? Catch all of the Azkals’ matches as ABS-CBN Sports+Action will air the replays their games in the tournament beginning Monday (June 2) until Friday (June 6).