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Azkals defeat Maldives 2-0 in a FIFA friendly match

In preparation for the upcoming World Cup Qualifier match against Uzbekistan, the Philippines edged Maldives with a 2-0 win in a FIFA International friendly match

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In preparation for the upcoming World Cup Qualifier match against Uzbekistan, the Philippines edged Maldives with a 2-0 win in a FIFA International friendly match on Thursday, at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The Azkals immediately took control of the ball at the beginning of the match. The first few minutes opened up chances for the Azkals to score. In the second minute, Misagh Bahadoran tried to score on the volley, but his attempt was quickly collected by Goalkeeper Mohamed Imran.

It wasn’t long until Maldivians quickly fired up their offense and moved aggressively to stop the Azkals from scoring. However, such actions only caused them to draw fouls. At the 14th minute, Ashadh Ali made a dangerous tackle while intercepting Misagh Bahadoran. This infraction awarded Philippines with a free kick for Phil Younghusband, but it was denied by the Maldivian defense. Thirty minutes left in the clock and Ahmed Nashid managed to obtain the ball and moved closer to the net, only to be denied by Azkal Keeper, Neil Etheridge.

The Philippine team remained focused and executed great ball movement, but they struggled to break down the opposing defense. The link-up play between Bahadoran, Iain Stephan Ramsay, and Stephan Schrock broke through the South Asians’ consistent defense. Unfortunately, Patrick Reichelt was not able to convert his chances to score.

The succeeding minutes followed the similar pattern; where the Philippines managed to take possession, but was followed by an interception or a shot that goes wide. The referee blew the whistle ending first half scoreless.

After the short break, Azkals Head Coach Thomas Dooley shuffled the roster to give playing time to the other players. Few minutes into the start of the second half, the Maldivians conceded a costly error from Mohamed Samdooh, who headed the ball into their own net. This awarded the home team the first goal of the match.

The Azkals held their ground close to the opponent’s territory at the 55th minute; consequently grabbing another goal from a Jerry Lucena header from cross by Kevin Ingreso.

The South Asians then gained ball control a few minutes after. Despite the turnover, the Azkals managed to recover easily and keep their defense intact from any goal from the Maldivians.
At the 65th minute, Maldives was at its closest in grabbing a goal when Mohamed Umair found an opening and sped close to the Azkal side. Amani Aguinaldo forced Umair to send his shot wide. The possession shifted back to Azkals in the following minute, and Schrock found an opportunity to score only for Imran to secure it.

The final minutes of the match saw Etheridge receive a yellow card when he went off his line to clear off a Maldives attack. Regardless, the Azkals went on to preserve the 2-0 win.

The next match for the Azkals will be the FIFA Qualifying match against Uzbekistan on Tuesday, September 8 at the Philippine Sports Stadium.

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