Well, the World Cup qualifying campaign of the Philippines ended that evening, but the growth of the beautiful game in the Philippines is just beginning. As my husband would later say to me, the Azkals lost that night to Kuwait, but they won the hearts of Filipinos and that is the much bigger victory. The second leg game against Kuwait wasn’t about the Azkals, it was about us supporters. It was about us supporters showing to the Azkals that we deserved them.
You see, if one were to look objectively at the second leg it was almost impossible to overturn a 3-0 aggregate deficit from the first leg against a highly experienced and skilled team such as Kuwait. A miracle was needed, and though that happens in football from time to time, this was pretty much unlikely, not yet. But the Azkals have already done their part; they have made great strides in a short span of time and brought football into the consciousness of Filipinos in a big way. Their heroic run to the semis of the Suzuki Cup, reaching the second round of World Cup qualifying, going head to head against Kuwait, they have proven themselves capable and now just need to continue with the hard work they have been doing. They need time, and based on the support of the crowd that evening, they will get it.
We the supporters on the other hand, we needed to be tested and to prove ourselves too, just like the Azkals. That second leg against Kuwait was our test, and we passed it with flying colors. The end of that match that was the most magical moment of all. In the rain, in defeat and in the face of adversity, the Azkals and we its supporters sealed our pact with one another. Come what may, they will play their hearts out on the pitch for us and we will be there in the stands supporting, rain or shine, in victory and in defeat because WE BELIEVE! Moira G. Gallaga ©