Thursday, September 6, 2012

Azkals held to a draw vs. Cambodia

Source : AKTV

The Philippine national men’s football team failed to take advantage of a less-experienced Cambodia side and settled for a scoreless draw Wednesday night at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

With Cambodia playing its first international match since last year, the Azkals were expected to dominate the hosts. However, things didn’t work well for the Filipinos.

The Azkals got off to a bad start, allowing Cambodia chances to score in the early minutes of the game.

But the Filipinos regained their form immediately, attacking the gaps of the Cambodian defense. That led to multiple scoring chances for Azkals star Phil Younghusband, as well as Jason Sabio and Chieffy Caligdong, but all failed to hit the net to end the first half with both of the teams scoreless.

Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge then almost yielded an easy goal in the 63rd minute after failing to clear the ball near the post, allowing a Cambodian player to snatch the ball and have a clear shot. However, Etheridge was able regain the ball.

As rain poured midway through the second half, the Azkals kept finding scoring opportunities on the attack for most of the half.

The Filipinos then had a great chance in the 86th minute as Misagh Bahadoran threw a nifty pass to Patrick Reichelt, who kicked the ball on its way to the goal, only to hit the left post to wound up with a scoreless result.

The Azkals last faced Cambodia in a scoreless draw in the 2010 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup qualifiers in a match that formalized their entry to the main tournament, where they reached the semifinals for the first time in history.

While the Azkals have already been seeded in the 2012 Suzuki Cup, Cambodia, ranked 188th in the world, still needs to go through the tournament qualifiers in October to join the competition proper.

The match also served as Cambodia’s first game in international play since its 6-2 loss to Laos in July 2011.

The Azkals will next battle Singapore on Friday and Laos on September 10.

Aside from looking to gain points to improve their world ranking which currently sits at 150th, the Azkals are using the matches to prepare for the 2012 Suzuki Cup in Thailand in November.

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