On June 12, 1898, the Philippines declared its freedom from its Spanish colonizers. 114 years later, the Philippines declares victory again.
A brace from Angel Guirado in the 7th minute and in first half stoppage time along with by Carli de Murga's strike in the 11th minute proved to be enough to dispatch The Matao of Guam, 3-0, at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod.
The Azkals, who were missing a couple of players due to suspension in Manny Ott and co-skipper Emelio Caligdong, decided to hold out Paul Mulders for this friendly due to a knock on his knee, something the ADO Den Haag midfielder apparently picked up from the friendly against Indonesia last week.
Coach Hans Michael Weiss pretty much went with his reliables to start the match, Fulham's Neil Etheridge started on goal, after only playing the second half of last week's friendly. Tasked with protecting Neil were De Murga, Rob Gier, Jason Sabio and Dennis Cagara. Jerry Lucena was slotted into the defensive midfielder position, while Global FC's Marwin Angeles handled the creative opportunities in central midfield, feeding the likes of Guirado and James Younghusband on the wings and Denis Wolf and Phil Younghusband up front.
The Philippines were aggressive from the get-go, getting a couple of scoring chances from stand-in skipper, James Younghusband from a Guirado cross, as well as a long distance attempt from the edge of the penalty area by Jerry Lucena. It did not take long for the aggression to pay off as in the seventh minute, as Guirado's curling shot was not anticipated by the Guam goalkeeper Dallas Jaye and went into the back net for the first goal of the match.
Even with the goal, the Philippines continued to put some more offensive pressure, which paid off four minutes after Guirado's goal. Angel's club teammate at Global FC, Carlie de Murga, found an opening with Jaye guarding the near post, targeting the far lower left corner and attempted a shot to double the lead for the Azkals.
From then on, it looked as if the Philippines played to the score, letting the Matao get a few scoring chances, but Etheridge and the defense were up to the task, and in times where they were unable to do so, Guam's offense missed the target. Even with the missed opportunities, Guam ratcheted up its defense, making marked improvements since allowing their opponents two early goals for the remainder of the half, until a Dennis Cagara free kick made its way to a Guirado header into the net for the third goal of the match, netting a brace a minute into stoppage time in the first half.
The second half saw the Philippines continue to find attempts on adding onto the lead, highlighted by the many missed chances from Denis Wolf.
While Gary White made two substitutions by second half kickoff, it took Weiss 68 minutes to make some changes in the lineup, with Global FC's Misagh Bahadoran replacing the struggling Wolf. He would then make three more lineup adjustments in the next 8 minutes, with Jason de Jong (72nd minute), Andres Gonzales (73rd minute) and Jeffrey Christiaens (76th minute) replacing Gier, Angeles and Guirado respectively.
As the final whistle blew, it tipped off celebrations on a cloudy night it the City of Smiles.