February 28, 2024

Azkals get morale-boosting support from global sports icon ahead of FIFA World Cup qualifiers

Azkals get morale-boosting support from global sports icon ahead of FIFA World Cup qualifiers
PFF

The Philippine men’s football team, also known as the Azkals, is set to compete against some of Asia’s toughest squads in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, which is a joint qualifying tournament as well for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup. 

 

 The 138th-ranked Azkals are in Group F, along with 68th-ranked Iraq, 94th-ranked Vietnam, and 145th-ranked Indonesia.

 

 The Azkals are currently deep in preparation for their matches this week. They are also urging Filipinos to storm the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila to cheer for the team, with the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) launching the "Stand Your Ground: 10K Strong!" campaign.

 

 Luckily for the PFF and the Azkals, Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao has come forward to lend a hand. On Monday, Azkals captain and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge posted an Instagram Story featuring the eight-division world champion echoing the PFF’s rallying cry.

 

 “Hello po mga kababayan, suportahan po natin ang ating men’s national football team sa FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Stand your ground, be part of the 10K strong. Laban, Pilipinas,” Pacquiao said.

Understandably, Etheridge was ecstatic with the support of Pacquiao, who remains a strong voice in the Philippines and outside the country.

 

 “Salamat po,” the 33-year-old Etheridge wrote as a caption for his Instagram Story.

 

ALSO READ: Neil Etheridge leads Azkals’ stacked 26-man roster for FIFA World Cup qualifiers

 

 The hope now is that 10,000-strong Filipinos will actually be roaring from the stands this Thursday, egging on the Azkals as they take on Vietnam at 7 p.m. to open the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying tilt.


(PM)