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2021 SEA Games

SEA Games: Azkals U23 score dream start, rout Timor Leste

The Philippine Azkals’ Under-23 team had a dream start to their 31st Southeast Asian Games campaign after a 4-0 rout over Timor Leste in Group A action, Friday at the Viet Tri Stadium in Phu To, Vietnam. 

The result saw the young Azkals win their second straight match against the same squad spanning two editions. They had a similar 6-1 finish in the 2019 edition in the Philippines.

“It’s always going to be difficult going into the tournament because we don’t know exactly where we are as a team. But everyone showed a lot of commitment and discipline,” Stephan Schrock said. “The boys did very well.”

The last time the two teams met, Ivan Ouano saved the Philippines a point after two equalizing goals. That forced a draw with the Timor Leste squad in the AFF U-23 Championship just last February.

This time, the Nationals started off the right track. They kept the Timor Leste defense working with good movement in the opponents’ half. This attacking intent eventually led to a go-ahead goal.

Christian Rontini pulled the Philippines ahead early in the game. He converted the set-piece into a goal in the 10th minute.

With Timor Leste getting aggressive in their half, Dennis Chung silenced the momentum from the opponents with the Azkals’ second goal. Captain Schrock gets it through the box to the running Chung, who sent the ball past the Timor Leste goalkeeper Junildo Pereira, 56 minutes into the match.

The flood gates then opened for the Young Azkals late. Jovin Bedic and Oskari Kekkonen joined the party with their respective goals in the 78th and 81st minutes of the contest.

#ReadMore  Rasmussen, Rontini strike as Azkals complete comeback vs Afghanistan

The Azkals will take on host and defending champion Vietnam next on Sunday at 7:00 PM (8:00 PM Philippine time) at the same venue.

“We sleep, eat and we go again,” said Schrock, expressing confidence in a strong showing against the hosts.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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