Chieffy Caligdong during the game with Indonesia, December 2010

That was how the story went tonight in Panaad, Bacolod, the Philippines. The Azkals took a huge bite of Mongolian barbecue and now the fans are chewing on it with relish.

The first skillful goal was by Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong, the airman from Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo. The second by Phil Younghusband, he of celebrity duets fame, who took a few tumbles during the game and made up for it by scoring late in the second half.

The game was a complete turnaround from the ill-fated game against Indonesia in December of 2010. The Azkals, playing the home court with no less than 10,000 fans, may have a bit of difficulty getting their act together. There were times when I wished Coach Weiß would bench Anton del Rosario and Jason de Jong, and put a muzzle on the hot tempered Ian Araneta, and field more Barotac Nuevo boys into the game.

But far be it from me, a mere fan, to second guess Coach Michael Weiß. I was hearing enough in-game comments from my husband, who was watching the game with me, and had played a few games in his high school and college days on the pitch at MSU-Marawi.

But coming away from the game with Indonesia last year the Azkals, who have awakened the love for football among fans heretofore unaware that the game was even played in this country, made a promise to their new followers as they increased in number. The next game was going to be better. Next time, they were going to win.

Tonight they fulfilled that promise.

A Promise fulfilled at Panaad

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