|Philippine Azkals striker Phil Younghusband won the Golden Boot award for the most number of goals scored during the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. Photo courtesy of Neil Etheridge
MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Azkals striker Phil Younghusband won the Golden Boot award for the most number of goals scored in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup tournament.
Younghusband scored 6 goals in the tournament to lead the Philippines to a historic third-place finish in the competition.
The former Chelsea reserve player opened the scoring for the Azkals in their nerve-gripping 4-3 victory over Palestine on Monday.
His second goal in the match came via a penalty in the 24th minute.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss said he is proud of what his wards have achieved. "I am very proud to be part of this development of Philippines' football and I look forward to it continuing."
"I also want to take the opportunity to thank all our fans in the Philippines, in the Gulf, in Europe and all over the world who have supported us. Without them, what we have achieved would not have been possible," he told the-afc.com in a post-match interview.
The German gaffer said he also did not expect the third-place match to go down the wire. "It was a thriller. A do-or-die game and we were lucky in the end."
"Overall, I think we deserved to finish third and I thank my players for their never-say-die attitude," he said.
Other members of the Philippine Azkals were also on cloud 9 with their victory over Palestine.
"Maraming salamat po sa pagsubaybay nyo sa aking twitter updates. Masaya ako na nakapaglaro ulit ako para sa Pilipinas at naka-3rd place kami," goalkeeper Neil Etheridge said.
"Salamat sa lahat na sumusuporta sa team. So proud of you," Chieffy Caligdong said.
"Another amazing achievement from this amazing team. We thank all those who contributed along the way and for everyone's wonderful support," Rob Gier said.
"That match was our Final and we ended with a bang! Great achievement to come home with a bronze. So damn proud!" said Aly Borromeo.
"Tanggapin nyo ang taos puso naming pasasalamat sa inyo sa walang sawa nyo na suporta sa amin! Mabuhay ang Pinoy!" Ian Araneta said.
The Azkals also received praise from Palestinian football fans on social media site Twitter.
"Philippines has improved tremendously in 12 months. Not just saying that because they put 4 past us- their play is a lot more nuanced," said @FutbolPalestine. "Thought the fourth goal was absolutely superb from Philippines. Beautiful overlapping play really shows how far they've come."
"Quite obvious today that Philippines was hungrier, angrier. Congratulations Azkals on the third place finish. See you at Challenge Cup 2014!" @FutbolPalestine added.
Azkals fans, meanwhile made a public show of support by gathering at the Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati on Monday night.
Two members of the group stepped into the hotel's large outdoor fountain bearing the Azkals flag as the rest cheered on.
North Korea won the tournament by beating Turkmenistan, 2-1, in a tightly fought final on Monday.