Philippine Azkals fall to Uzbekistan in lopsided affair

Santino Honasan on Sep 09, 2015 01:08 AM
Philippine Azkals fall to Uzbekistan in lopsided affair
Stephan Schrock did his best to get the Azkals back, but could only muster a single goal against Uzbekistan

The Philippine Azkals get their first taste of defeat in the World Cup Qualifiers, bowing to Uzbekistan, 5-1 at the Philippine Sports Stadium, Tuesday night.

Coming off two straight wins in the Qualifiers as well as a shutout of Maldives in an international friendly match just days earlier, the Azkals marched onto the pitch on a rainy Tuesday night with all the confidence and momentum in the world.

47 seconds into the match however, the visiting Uzbekistan side stopped the Azkals right in their tracks, catching the home team off guard with an opening goal courtesy of Odil Ahmedov that would be the first of their five.

Sardor Rashidov would double the Uzbek lead in the 14th minute, before Igor Sergeev found the back of the net in the 43rd with a straight shot off an assist from Anzur Ismailov to send Uzbekistan into the halftime break with a commanding 3-0 cushion.

Things didn’t get any easier in the second half for the Azkals, as Sergeev blasted in a well-timed header off a corner kick to complete the brace and put the visitors up, 4-0 in the 65th minute.

Stephan Schrock, who came into the game at the start of the second half, helped the Azkals avoid the shutout, curling an incredible free kick right into the back of the net in the 68th mark.

That was all that the Pinoy side would be able to muster though, as Rashidov put the finishing touches with an 80th minute goal, making it two Uzbekistan players to score braces.

As dominant as the Azkals had been in their first two outings, Uzbekistan played like every bit the highest ranked team in the group. Every time that the Azkals would make a run towards the goal, the Uzbekistan defense would be there to disrupt the offense, or downright break it up.

“Everything that we had planned to do, after the first minute, was over,” Dooley told the media following the match.

While the loss was definitely a setback that sends the Philippines down to third place with six points in three matches played, Dooley kept positive and won’t be letting the loss derail the Azkals’ success so far.

“We won two games already, and we against a team that’s absolutely the number one on our group, so we didn’t lose anything…we need to learn from this game to take into the next game.”

Up next for the Philippines will be a matchup against group leading North Korea over at the Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang and then it’s off to Bahrain for a the second leg of the group stages.  

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