For the first time in 14 years, the Philippine Under-22 National Men’s Football Team finally won on home soil. And the result came at the best time possible.
Needing to win to revive their hopes of a semifinals appearance in the Men’s Football Tournament of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the Azkals secured a 1-0 victory, Friday evening, at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
The outcome elevates the host nation’s points tally to 4 points in Group A. Meanwhile, Malaysia remains stuck at one point after two games.
In a game under threat of being another draw for the Azkals, a bit of magic from veteran midfielder Stephan Schrock finally gave them the break they deserved. In the 72nd minute, the Filipino-German midfielder delivered a simple corner kick. Malaysian goalie Muhammad Haziq Nadzli then mishandled the ball, letting it into a goal.
“We are very, very happy,” said Schrock. “We put ourselves in a situation where we can advance and that was a goal and we’re very proud of the result.”
With a precious one-goal lead, the Filipinos held on for dear life and repelled everything that came their way. Center-back Amani Aguinaldo and goalkeeper Anthony Pinthus guided the backline and thwarted any danger that came in the Philippines box. There were close calls in the end, but none were able to spoil the night of 6,500 fans in the venue — most of whom vocally cheered on the home side.
A goalless affair ensued in the first half. The best chances from both teams came from Filipino forward Chima Uzoka, who headed Stephan Schrock’s pass over the goal. On the other hand, his counterpart, Malaysian striker Abdul Razak, shot painfully wide at the other end of the pitch.
The Philippines’ next game is against Timor Leste on December 4, 2019, 4:00 PM at the Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna.
Philippines XI: Pinthus (GK), Suerti, De Bruycker, Uzoka, Baas, Gallantes, Aguinaldo, Gayoso, Diano, Schrock ©, Rontini.
Malaysia XI: Nadzli (GK), Nor Azlin ©, Tan, Abdul Razak, Nik Mat, Rajasingam, Kutty Abba, Norhisham, Zakaria, Abdul Rashid, Safali.
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