Azkals scrape through

T WASN’T pretty and the Azkals didn’t get the result they wanted but they still managed to advance to the group stage despite losing, 2-1, to Mongolia in the second leg of the Asian Football Confederation qualifiers in the National Stadium in Ulan Bator yesterday.

The Philippines advanced on aggregate, 3-2, owing to its 2-0 win in Bacolod last Feb. 9 and will face host Myanmar, Bangladesh and Palestine in the AFC Challenge Cup group phase in Myanmar from March 21 to 31.

On his Twitter account alybor11, team captain Aly Borromeo was apologetic for their loss but said he is looking forward to the next round.

“Sorry Pilipinas. Very disappointed with the loss today! The match is time to look forward to the next games in Myanmar,” he tweeted.

“Thank you everyone for the undying support. The game was difficult and we apologize for not winning here. We will bounce back. Pinoy Pride,” said Jason Sabio.

The Azkals started strong against an offense-oriented Mongolia and scored on their first play, with James Younghusband banging in Emilio Caligdong’s rebound to the empty net in the fourth minute.

Unlike in the first game, when Mongolia played defensively, the Blue Wolves were more offense-oriented, finishing with 16 shots on goal, 10 in the first half. In the first leg in Panaad, Mongolia only had one shot on goal.

James had another chance in the eighth, but his curling shot from right flank sailed just wide and another attempt from Caligdong from the right got caught by the keeper Ganbayar Tseveensuren.

The hosts got one back in the 21st after catching the Philippine defense sleeping and Mongolia got even with a shot from captain Donorov Lumbengrav inside the box.

Phil Younghusband got his first clear chance in the 30th but his shot was saved by the
keeper and in the ensuing play, disaster struck.

Anton del Rosario brought down a Mongolian striker in the box and the referee promptly called a penalty.

Edward Sacapano, playing in lieu of Neil Etheridge, saved the penalty but Bayasgalan Garidmagnai banged in his own rebound past Sacapano as the defense was caught sleeping again.

Phil Younghusband got a chance to score the equalizer in the 40th but his tap in off a
corner sailed high. In the 44th, it was the hosts’ turn to miss, this time from pointblank range.

In the second half, Ian Araneta, who had two hat tricks against Laos and Timor Leste in the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers, had a chance to end his scoring drought but his shot was saved by keeper Tseveensuren.

In the 64th, Phil Younghusband’s free kick just outside the box hit the wall, while Mongolia got the best chance to go ahead 2-1 a minute later, but instead hit the bar off a cross.

Things got worse for the Azkals in the 70th as Phil Younghusband was forced to come off the pitch after pulling a hamstring and was replaced by the 38-year-old Yanti Bersales, the oldest member of the team.

However, despite the top striker sitting on the bench, the Azkals managed to string together a few attacks in the final minutes of the game. Caligdong got ambitious but his mad dash from halfcourt resulted into an easy save, while Roel Gener’s attempt also hit wide.

With time running out, Mongolia tried to push for more goals as the Blue Wolves needed to score two more goals to advance, but the defense and Sacapano managed to hold on, ensuring the Philippines a berth to the group stage.


[...] The match is time to look forward to the next games in Myanmar,” he tweeted.source:                    Get Shareaholic March 17 2011 [...]
sidrow_c said…
i hope that the azkals can immediately recover from the mental and physical hardship that they have undergone from their harrowing experience in japan uo to match they played in the freezing environment of mongolia.

philippine azkals are seeded number 1 in the group stage in myanmar (based from FIFA ranking) but their recent expoits in japan and the way they played as a team against mongolia only showed that they have not significantly raised the level of their game needed in the upcoming competition in myanmar.
anyway, good luck to the azkals.

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