Header Ads Widget

Azkals set sights on Tajikistan after surviving late Fiji scare

Image may contain: one or more people, people playing sports and outdoor
Photo by the PFF
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA -- The Philippines go into Tuesday's crunch Asian Cup Qualifier against Tajikistan with a back of the win over Fiji, but not without a late scare of the visitors in their 3-2 win on Thursday night at the Rizal Memorial.

The result leaves the Azkals with more questions rather than answers as what was once a convincing rout shortly after the hour mark became a dogfight later in the final third of the game after the Bula Boys nearly produced a shock draw only that they could not find the equalizer when the home side clamped down after a pair of howlers from its back line.

Phil Younghusband inched one goal closer to a golden milestone by putting the hosts ahead at the half-hour mark from the spot, after Misagh Bahadoran was fouled inside the box.

Michael Falkesgaard picked up a clean sheet in his debut start.

At the restart, the Azkals struck twice in a nine-minute stretch that almost put the match to bed with Hikaru Minegishi opening his national account in the 53rd minute with a long bomb from outside.

Kevin Ingreso waited for more than a year to get his second by making it 3-0 shortly after the hour with a long-ranged effort of his own.

However, Christophe Gamel's men were unfazed on the quality of the opposition by making the most of the few chances with Ame Votoniu pouncing on a miscue by Dennis Villanueva to reduce the deficit.

Then Nick O'Donnell gifted Roy Krishna a penalty kick and the Wellington man did not disappoint their small contingent by tucking it into the left side of the post for his 21st goal with 10 minutes left on the clock.

However, Villanueva and Carli De Murga hold fort for the win, but concerns are aplenty for the hosts ahead of the biggest tiff in Group F, with a place in the footballing annals of the archipelago on the line.

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada