Azkals supporters philippinesBasketbal and boxing are the two most popular sports in the Philippines, already for years. Also Biljart is popular because of the result of the Filipinos playing these sports on world level.
One upcoming sport and becoming more popular by the day is Football (or Soccer for Americans).
The ‘Philippine national football team’, nicknamed the “Azkals” (which is derived from “askal” or “asong kalye”, the Tagalog colloquial term for “street dog”), is the national team of the Philippines and is controlled by the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).
AZKALS logo philippinesSome years ago a national Filipino team was formed by inviting several Filipinos living abroad, half-Filipinos (with a foreign father or mother) and some Filipinos playing in the country itself. All players were experienced players, some of them even semi-professionals. And they are doing very well internationaly. The Philippines doesn’t have a local competition yet, but I am told that they are trying to set one up. Football is also played in universities these days and in schools, to try to make this sport more popular.
My personal opinion is that Football is more a sport for Filipinos than basketball. Basketball requires tall people and Filipinos in general are not that tall. A football player doesn’t need to be tall and the game is not difficult to understand or to learn.

Historically, football in the Philippines had already achieved its peak in the thirties and early forties. After the game was introduced by British sailors from Hong Kong in the 1900s, foreigners have dictated the pace of the game. Although the British and Chinese presence are being felt in Manila and other southern cities, the Spanish connection remains the sole influence that dominates.

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Football has peaked in the Philippines several times, in the early 1900s to the 1940s and later died as the introduction of basketball, and the success of the country’s basketball team, sparked fever among most Filipinos. Though several attempts to resurrect football in the Philippines have failed in the 1960s to the late 1970s, the Philippine Football Federation is still trying until this very day to once again resurrect football and to once again mount football as a national sport in the Philippines.

One notable player from the Philippines is  Paulino Alcántara, a former Filipino/Spanish football player and manager who spent most of his playing career at FC Barcelona. He also played for the Catalan XI, the Philippines, and Spain. Alcántara made his senior debut for FC Barcelona at the age of 15 and remains the youngest player ever to play or score for the club. He also scored a remarkable 357 goals in 357 matches, making him the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. Alcántara is also the first Filipino and Asian player ever to play for a European club.

In September 2006 the country fell to 195th on the FIFA ranking scale, its lowest ever. By the end of the year, the Philippines moved back up to 171th overall, after qualifying for the 2007 ASEAN Football Championship with a 4-1 win over Brunei. However, their failure to advance from the preliminaries dropped the country’s ranking to 179th. The recent string of poor performances caused the Philippines to refuse to enter the qualification stages for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In 2011 they did much better and as of beginning March 2012 they are positioned 156, and for sure they will climb the ladder in the recent results in the AFC Challange tournament held in Nepal at the moment.
As of today they have reached the semi-finals of this prestigious tournament and the next match will be March 19 against Turkmenistan (the runner up from last year). The winner of last year, India, lost last Sunday from our Azkals ( 2 – 0 ); so there is a big chance that the Philippines will play the finals on March 19.


Those who are interested to watch: the games are broadcasted live in the Philippines at the Net25 channel.
afc-logo16 March 2012 14:30 (Nepal time) 16:45 Philippines Time

3rd and 4th place
19 March 2012 14:30 (Nepal time) 16:45 Philippines Time
19 March 2012 18:30 (Nepal time) 20:45 Philippine Time

Later this year the Philippine Azkals will also play in the Suzuki Cup held from 24 November – 22 December 2012 co-hosted by Malaysia and Thailand.

And here are some links:
Azkals website(s):