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Early Dimas brace condemns U23 Azkals to woeful exit



In their final 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games football match, the Phiilippines slipped to a 2-0 defeat against Indonesia Wednesday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore. Evan Dimas masterminded the Filipinos’ downfall this time around. His early brace was enough to punish the Young Azkals for the fourth and the last time in the competition.

Still in contention to make it to the next round, the Indonesians were not in the mood to give the Philippines a positive result in their final game. As soon as the third minute, Dimas outpaced the Filipino defenders before easily slotting the ball past Jun Badelic to supply the game’s opening goal. Ten minutes later, the Merah Putih doubled the advantage via their second clear chance in the game. Paulo Sitanggang went towards the byline before drilling the ball into the box. His cross was then guided by Dimas who slammed the ball into the net, collecting his brace with more than half an hour to go in the opening half. Shaken, the Filipinos coped well enough with the Indonesian attacking barrage that went on until halftime. For most of the first half, the Indonesians kept stretching the Young Azkals’ defense in their quest to put the game away from the Filipinos’ reach. Dimas, Hansamu Yama, Muchlis Hadi Ning Syaifulloh, and Zulfiandi each had an opportunity to nab their team’s third goal at the expense of the vulnerable Philippine defense. Badelic, however, stood firm to preserve a two-goal deficit at the very least.

On their part, the Philippines only managed to register their first chance 29 minutes into the game. Arnel Amita ran unmarked towards the attacking third before passing the ball to Jinggoy Valmayor. The Pachanga-Diliman forward then positioned himself well on the edge of the box before unfurling a curled shot that ended up wide. Three minutes before halftime, Daniel Gadia threaded a well-executed through ball to the path of long-time teammate Valmayor. The 23-year-old forward was able to receive the pass whilst breaking the Indonesians’ offside trap but he scuffed the chance by tamely striking the ball weak to the liking of Indonesia goalkeeper Teguh Amiruddin. Just before halftime, the Filipinos were boosted by the introduction of Paolo Salenga, who replaced Jaime Cheng. At the 45th minute, the Global FC player set up Gadia but the Pachanga-Diliman midfielder fired way off target. At the half, Indonesia held a relatively slim 2-0 lead, knowing that it could have been more had it not for Badelic’s marvellous saves.

Shortly after the restart, Indonesia picked up where they left off. Zulfiandi attempted a long range effort three minutes into the second half but his effort did not hit the target. A neat string of passes almost led to a goal for Muchlis but Salenga managed to bother the Indonesian enough for his teammates to clear the ball from safety. Indonesia played with less vigor in the second half. Their closest chance in scoring a third came just before the hour mark. Muchlis claimed that Ian Clarino impeded him illegally as he entered inside the box, but the referee was not interested in awarding a spot kick.

After defending for most of the game, the Philippines began pressing forward with the hopes of cutting the deficit to just a solitary goal. Midway through the second half, the Filipinos obtained more touches inside the Indonesians’ half. However, the Young Azkals preference of shooting from long range instead of patiently circumventing the organized Indonesian defense only led to harmless shots from outside the box. As time ran out, Amita nearly gifted the Philippines something to cheer about with an acrobatic attempt but Amiruddin easily held the Manila Jeepney FC player’s effort. It would have done little to alter the outcome of the game as the referee soon sounded the final whistle that signalled the end of the Filipinos’ participation in the 2015 SEA Games.

**Screenshot from Sport Singapore’s Youtube Channel

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