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MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) -- Filipinos cheered the national football team for reaching the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup for the first time.
Fans of the Philippine football team - more known as the Azkals - congratulated team members for its Tuesday's 2-1 victory over 2006 winners Tajikistan.
The recent win allowed the team to advance to the semifinal of the AFC Challenge Cup and improved its chance to win its first major tournament.
"They did a good job," said Azkals fan Arcy Ruel Cabading who's proud that a national team finally qualified for the AFC semifinal round.
Azkals fan Rhona Albarece said "they're (Azkals) very good! Hands down. I wasn't able to watch (the match) live but just saw the highlights." She praised striker Angel Guirado for leading the team to victory.
Guirado rallied the Philippine football team with a goal and an assist in the second half of the match held in Nepal.
The Philippine government encouraged the Azkals to continue to make the country proud and congratulated the group for entering in the AFC Challenge Cup semifinals.
"It's higher than winning the Suzuki Cup, so we certainly congratulate the latest triumph of Azkals and we urge them to continue to perform their best and to do proud to our country," Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda.
The recent win also gave Filipino football fans hope that the country will get the chance one day to play, and even win, in the World Cup.
Lawyer John Christopher Tanjili Mahamud, a football fan, never thought that he will see the day that a Philippine team will have a chance to compete in the World Cup.
"The Azkals' success in the AFC Challenge gave every Filipino football fan some hope that perhaps, in the near future, we might see the Philippine flag in the World Cup.
"The Azkals now can play toe-to-toe with top caliber teams and there is no way but up."
For her part, development worker Mayi Fabros congratulated the team and noted that this victory meant that Azkals is proving that there's more to it than just hype.
But as a women's rights advocate, Fabros said that she hoped that Azkals victory won't overshadow the fact that some of its team members have a pending sexual harassment case and therefore still subject to investigation.
Former Philippine Olympic Committee president Cristy Ramos-Jalasco is pursuing a sexual harassment case against team members Guirado and Lexton Moy.