MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals are back in Manila after their runner-up finish in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives.
Some of the Azkals, including first choice goal-keeper Neil Etheridge, skipper Rob Gier, and the Younghusband brothers, left for other countries a day after the Challenge Cup final. Phil and James flew to Singapore to join the Loyola Meralco Sparks in the Singapore Cup.
Some players – Jason de Jong, Patrick Deyto, OJ Porteria, Daisuke Sato, Ruben Doctora, Chris Greatwhich, and team manager Dan Palami – arrived in Manila Sunday afternoon.
Seven players and eight members of the coaching staff – including head coach Thomas Dooley – were among those whose Qatar Airways flight was cancelled and had to be rebooked to a Korean Air flight.
Dooley and the rest of the players arrived in Manila on Monday, upon which they expressed their gratitude to the Filipinos in Maldives who took care of them while they were waiting for a flight.
"Yesterday, we had to wait (for our flight) because of technical problems, and we had to wait for 40 hours to get to Manila, and there’s a group of Filipino people catching us in the airport and taking care of us," said Patrick Deyto.
"(They) quit their work for one day, just to make sure we have food," he added. "I have never experienced that before and I really have to say thank you for the Filipinos all over, in Bahrain, in Maldives, everywhere."
"It's just amazing."
The Azkals suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the finals of the Challenge Cup last weekend, losing to Palestine 0-1 after Ashraf Alfawaghra converted a goal off a free kick in the second half.