THE Philippine men’s football team – Azkals survived a scary last minute surge of host-Tajikistan, 4-3 last Tuesday night (early morning in Manila) for the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers – UAE 2019 played at the Republican Central Stadium in Dushanbe.
Filipino skipper Phil Younghusband scored their first goal on a free kick from 19 yards in the 27th minute before Javier Patiño made it doubled in the 41st minute for an early 2-0 lead at the half.
Three minutes after the second half kicked off, Patiño broke away from Tajikistan defenders to score his second goal and the Philippines’ third in the game.
However, a penalty from Parvizdzhon Umarboev and strike on the counter by Dilshod Vasiev gave the 15,000 home-crowd the faith of scoring their first win the tournament.
Just downed by a goal a Davronjon Ergashev strike could made a difference when he almost scored the equalizer for Tajikistan in the 70th minute only that his shot hit the crossbar.
But, with 11 minutes left in regulation Daisuke Sato scored Azkals’ fourth goal after drilling from outside the box – beating his defenders and sent the winning goal past the Tajikistan keeper Mahkamov Abduaziz.
Manuchekhr Dzhalilov scored Tajikistan’s third in the 90th minute but, wasn’t enough to change the outcome despite the 4 minute added time as they suffered their second loss in the campaign.
The win placed the Philippines on top of Group F with 6 points followed by Yemen with 4 points. The Azkals will host Yemen on September 5 in Panaad Park and Stadium.
For Azkals’ Head Coach Thomas Dooley, they have a great first half. “We played nice football and we put a great fight on the field. We did everything we talked about. We missed the 4:0 on chances from Mike Ott and Javier (Patiño) which would have been a clear victory,” he said. “The 15,000 people in the stadium pushed their (Tajikistan) team forward after the penalty. A huge mistake gave them even more energy and we started to be under a norm pressure,” he stressed.
“Sato brought the game home and now we are focusing on Yemen and have a good 2 months ahead of us. I’m excited to come and play a game there (in Bacolod),” Dooley said.
Azkals’ team manager Dan Palami admitted that, “we let them into the game with our mistakes. Somehow after they scored that penalty, we stopped pressing and then forced us to make a mistake. If we scored on one of our 3 open goal counters that would have been the end of it for them,” he told SportsJourn.
When asked if what will be the possible immediate adjustments they will have with the team if ever their next match with Yemen will be played tomorrow, Palami jokingly replied, “then we’re dead. Ha ha ha. The game took all of our energy. But, seriously, the team just needs to have more time together so that we can iron the kinks. Maturity, as a team, takes time and it’s something that we don’t have much of these days,” he said.*
(Photo Credit to Tajikistan Football Federation)