The Philippine Azkals may have bowed out of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 at the semifinal stage but two of their most well-known stars, Phil and James Younghusband, have just achieved a remarkable feat – reaching 100 international caps.
With this , let us take a brief look at the two players’ career-highlights.
JAMES YOUNGHUSBAND – 100 caps, 12 goals
1. First goal (January 7, 2007 vs Singapore)
In 2007, James scored his first senior goal for the Philippines in a friendly fixture against Singapore at Choa Chu Kang Stadium.
He opened his goalscoring account for the Philippines with an 18th minute equaliser, cancelling Daniel Bennett’s 12th minute strike.
However, three more unanswered goals by the Lions, courtesy of Khairul Amri (29′) and Indra Sahdan Daud (51′, 71′) ended the match in a 4-1 loss.
2. AFC Challenge Cup “qualifying” goal (March 15, 2011 vs Mongolia)
James Younghusband opened the scoring in the 8th minute of the match in an AFC Challenge Cup 2012 qualifier match against Mongolia.
Despite the match ending in a 2-1 loss, his goal proved to be the decider that sealed their qualification to the group stage of the tournament.
After competing in the 2006 inaugural tournament, the Philippines were not able to participate in the next two editions of the Challenge Cup (2008, 2010) after a qualification stage was introduced. But, with James Younghusband’s goal, the Philippines were able to participate in 2012.
3. 100th cap goal (December 6, 2018 vs Vietnam)
James Younghusband scored his latest 12th career goal for the Azkals in the just concluded AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 semifinal second leg match against Vietnam at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.
With the Philippines already reeling after quick two goals by Vietnam in succession courtesy of Nguyen Quang Hai (83′) and Nguyen Cong Phuong (87′). A late corner for the Azkals was converted by James Younghusband in the 89th minute, that made sure the Philippines signed-off from their Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign with a fight.
Although the result ended in a painful 2-1 (4-2 on aggregate) loss against the Azkals, James’ late goal proved to be an important consolation from an individual standpoint, scoring right when he earned is 100th cap for the Philippines.
PHIL YOUNGHUSBAND – 105 caps, 52 goals
1. First goal (November 14, 2006 vs Timor Leste)
Phil Younghusband opened his goalscoring account for the Philippines with a bang by breaking the deadlock in the 22nd minute in an AFF Suzuki Cup qualifier match against Timor Leste.
The breakthrough goal set the tone for his Philippines senior career in the most promising way as he added three more in the process to help the Azkals get a 7-0 win.
That amazing jumpstart set the tone for Phil as he eventually became the highest ever goalscorer for the Philippines at this moment with 52 goals.
2. Miracle in Hanoi (December 5, 2010 vs Vietnam)
Phil Younghusband’s 79th minute goal in a 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup group stage encounter against then defending champions Vietnam at My Dinh Stadium cemented what is considered as one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament.
Previously considered as one of Southeast Asia’s football minnows, the 2010 edition became the country’s first ever breakout performance as the Azkals survive the group stage and set foot in the semifinal for the first time in their history of participation in the tournament.
From that point, the Philippines made themselves one of the teams to reckon with as they were able to build up on that milestone campaign by reaching the semifinal in four out of the next five editions of the tournament.
That win became a watershed moment for the Azkals as it ushered a renaissance for football in the Philippines where the sport, interestingly, is not the most popular.
3. 50th goal milestone (March 27, 2018 vs Tajikistan)
Phil scored his 50th international career-goal milestone against Tajikistan via a penalty that sealed their qualification to the AFC 2019 Asian Cup.
It was a fixture held at home in Rizal Memorial Stadium where the Philippines’ participation for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup group stage hung in the balance as the Azkals needed at least a draw to ensure their ticket to the regional competition.
After a goalless first half, the Filipinos suffered a blow after Nazarov broke the deadlock in favor of Tajikistan with a 64th minute penalty kick conversion.
Kevin Ingreso, who was at fault for that penalty, made amends by producing an equaliser in the 74th minute that put them back in qualification state.
But a late penalty that was awarded for the Philippines has been successfully converted by Phil Younghusband in the first minute of added time to erase all doubts and solidify the Philippines’ participation to the continental tournament for the first time in the country’s footballing history.
The achievement made him the Philippines’ first footballer to reach the 50th goal mark in a competitive match that can be considered as one of the most crucial yet for the country that made earning the feat all the more significant.
At this moment, Phil’s international goalscoring tally is at 52, while he earned his 100th cap during the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 campaign opener against Singapore.
100 international appearances – A remarkable feat for these remarkable brothers.
Phil and James Younghusband clearly achieved what no other Filipino footballer has at the moment, and that is amassing 100 international caps for their country.
But to add more dose of what makes these Azkals even more remarkable is their eligibility to play for the Philippines and their discovery by the Philippine football team was due to a football management simulator game.