On the back of forward Ivan Ouano’s two strikes, the Philippines Azkals’ Under-23 team kickstarted its AFF U-23 Youth Championship 2022 campaign with a 2-2 stalemate against Timor Leste, Monday evening at the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Their previous encounter against Timor Leste back in the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualification last October 31 saw the young Pinoys lose 0-1. And just like then, they faced an early setback.
Coach Stewart Hall’s men went down after referee Souei Vongkham pointed to the spot after a foul in the Philippines box. Midfielder Mouzinho Barreto de Lima then converted the penalty to hand his side the lead after six minutes.
“We think Timor Leste are a good team,” said Hall. “They’ve been together three months, we’ve been together three weeks so they’re fitter than us, they’re sharper than us, they have better match habits than we have because they’ve been playing games, we haven’t.”
The Philippines, though, found a way to respond just before the halftime whistle.
Azkals Development Team forward Ouano received the ball at the dangerous area. He then shot past Timor Leste goalie Junildo Pereira to equalize in the 44th minute.
Come the second half, Timor Leste regained the lead at the 55th minute. Defender Jaimito Soares was able to find a way past the Filipino defenders marking him. He performed a fine finish to score past goalie Quinci Kammeraad.
Similar to the first period, it was Ouano again who came to the rescue. The 21-year-old product of National University was in the right place at the right time. He then put the ball at the back of the net at the 62nd minute.
“The fact that we went 1-0 down and then 2-1 down, I think we showed great character to come back both times and get the draw,” said Hall.
The Filipinos shall resume their campaign on Thursday against host nation Cambodia at the Prince Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Fellow Group A mates Cambodia and Brunei are currently playing as of publishing.
Philippines XI: Kammeraad (GK), Maniti, Kekkonen ©, McDaniel, Mendoza, Pena, Forrosuelo, Bugas, Ouano, Rosquillo, Woods.
Timor Leste XI: Pereira (GK), Jaimito Soares, Oliveira, Mesquita, De Lima, Halle, Mota, Da Coasta ©, Fernandes, Gusmao, Joao Soares.