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Azkals get boost ahead of Uzbekistan match with friendly win versus Maldives

Rejj Sibayan (file photo)
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA—The Philippines went berserk in the first ten minutes of the second half, and its defense and useful substitutions helped the team to a comprehensive 2-0 win in a friendly against Maldives at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.

An own goal by Mohamed Samdhooh and a header by Jerry Lucena broke the Red Snappers’ resistance and repeated the Azkals' extra time win over them in the Challenge Cup semifinal last year.

The win gave the Azkals a much needed boost when they face Uzbekistan in a World Cup Qualifier Tuesday in Bocaue, Bulacan. The Uzbeks are facing Yemen as of this writing in the WCQ.

It was an uneventful first half for both sides as action was seldom.

Patrick Reichelt gave the closest chance midway in the half, when he headed his chance a couple of feet wide to the left against three defenders. Both nets went unmoved after the first 45 minutes.

At halftime, Thomas Dooley had made a triple switch with Dennis Villanueva, Paul Mulders and Kenshiro Daniels coming in for regular skipper Phil Younghusband, Daisuke Sato and Misagh Bahadoran.

The replacements paid off four minutes into the restart.

Off a corner, the ball went to Samdhooh, who tried to clear the ball out but instead went past Imran Mohamed for an own goal.

Six minutes later, Lucena scored his second for the Azkals after he headed the ball to the back of the net after a rebound.

Coincidentally, it was also against Maldives when he opened his scoring account.

The Azkals held on in the final 35 minutes to seal Dooley’s 14th win in charge in 26 matches.

Neil Etheridge picked up his second consecutive clean sheet and even had the captain’s armband for the last 22 minutes.