PHIL Younghusband knows exactly how it feels to make it to the semifinals of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
One of the key figures in an unfancied Philippine men’s football team’s historic run to the semifinals in 2010, the 25-year-old Filipino-British striker once again left an indelible mark as the Azkals reached the Final Four of Southeast Asia's premier football competition for the second successive time.
Now the star striker hopes he and the Azkals can go one better as the team bids to reach unchartered territory and clinch a coveted spot in the Final when it plays Singapore in a home-and-away semifinal tie beginning on December 8 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“You can’t really compare them,” Younghusband said. “It was the first time two years ago. Now, it’s the same team, but different players; it’s a different time. But the feeling (both times) is just amazing.”
The country’s top scorer with 28 international goals to his name, Younghusband was the primary - and oftentimes only - scoring option for the 2010 team as he hit three goals combined in the qualifying and group stages.
He struggled to find the goal for much of this week's group stage in Bangkok but delivered when it mattered most, firing one of the Azkals’ two goals in their last group match against Myanmar on Friday night at the Supachalasai Stadium as the Azkals sealed a place in the semifinals.
“I still feel I’ve been working hard, and it eventually paid off,” said Younghusband.
Now that he is back in the scoring groove, Younghusband hopes the Azkals can reach new heights with a team that has a lot more offensive options than the 2010 team, counting on the likes of Angel Guirado, Chieffy Caligdong, and Paul Mulders, among others.
“As a striker, you get confidence from scoring goals. So it feels good," Younghusband said.