Friday, March 09, 2012

Gallant Azkals fall to NoKor, 2-0

(This is the draft of my match report for Sun.Star Cebu on March 10)
A GALLANT Philippine team held off North Korea for one half before conceding two goals in the second half to lose, 2-0, in its opening match of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in Nepal.

North Korea, which made the World Cup in 2010 and the defending champion of the tournament, now leads the group with three points, while the Philippines is last. Former champions India and Tajikistan were set to face each other at press time last night.

In one of the most exemplary showing of the Philippine team, the defense held off a determined North Korea side in the first half with Fulham FC keeper Neil Etheridge stopping a penalty in the 18th and pulling off numerous saves.

The Philippines only had two real chances at goal in the first half, coming off in the first four minutes on a Phil Younghusband shot from right flank and in in the late stages, with Angel Guirado’s turn-and-shoot getting blocked.

In between it was all North Korea and the defending champions had the Azkals backpedaling for most of the match.  In the 18th, North Korea got a penalty and scored but the referee ordered a retake. This time, Etheridge was up to the task, staving off the attempt. 

Etheridge got another save in the 22nd, and in the 25th was beating by Pak Song Chol, but fortunately, Jason Sabio was there to block the shot. 

In the 51st, Phil had another shot deflected but just as things were looking good for the Philippines, Pak Nam Chol scored on a header in the 57th and North Korea added another after Etheridge failed to control a cross in the 64th.

Despite the loss, the Philippines is still in the hunt for a semis slot but must win its final two group matches, against former champion India on Sunday and Tajikistan, another former champion, on Tuesday. ML

1 comment:

jonny said...

Philippines dont have to win both matches , Mike ?

4 points and a ok goal difference is normally good enough to het to semifinals