MANILA, Philippines – Despite missing their key members, the Philippine Azkals were able to salvage a 1-1 draw against the collegiate line-up of the Central Philippines University (CPU) in their friendly game in Iloilo City.
The Azkals struggled against the impressive ball-handling of the CPU team, which was mainly composed of Korean college students.
The Koreans scored the first goal past Azkals goalie Christopher Camcam.
CPU appeared headed for an upset against the fancied National team, but Azkals midfielder Ricardo “Yoc” Becite struck a goal near the end of the game.
That goal allowed the Azkals to get a 1-1 draw.
Becite, of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo said he was happy he scored the goal.
“Kasi ‘pag natalo kami sa hometown namin, big deal sa amin. [Hindi maganda] kasi Team Azkal, tapos talo,” he said.
The Azkals missed the services of the Younghusband siblings, Phil and James, who had to attend a previous commitment.
Azkals defender Anton del Rosario also didn’t play because he was down with an infection.
German coach Hans Weiss said the game tested the mettle of the team in the absence of its star players.
“It wasn't our best game but I got to see what the other players could,” he said.
The exhibition game is part of their preparations for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Sri Lanka.
It was witnessed by thousands of local fans who came from different points of Iloilo, which is known as the hotbed of Philippine football.
Meanwhile, Filipino-British goalkeeper Neil Etheridge has arrived in Manila to join the team. -- With a report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News