Philippine Azkals survive Fiji in International Friendly Match

Azkals survive Fiji in International Friendly Match
The Philippine Azkals survived a late rally to defeat Fiji, 3-2, in an International Friendly Match, Thursday evening.

With arguably the biggest match in Philippine football history looming, the Philippine Azkals returned to the pitch Thursday evening and edged out Fiji in an International Friendly Match at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

The match served as a tuneup for the Azkals' final 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match against Tajikistan on Tuesday, March 27th.

After not being able to finish on their first three shots on goal, the Azkals were gifted a penalty attempt after Misagh Bahadoran was fouled inside the box in the 28th minute.

The Philippines' leading goal scorer Phil Younghusband stepped up and sank the penalty in the 29th minute for his 49th international goal and a 1-0 Azkals lead.

Coming off the halftime break, Pika Minegishi doubled the Azkals' lead early in the second half, curling the ball into the back of the net in the 52nd minute.

Kevin Ingreso joined the scoring party in the 61st minute, pouncing on a cleared ball and firing one in from outside the box.

Just when looked like a decided match, the visiting Fiji side staged a run of their own, starting with Ame Votoniu capitalizing on a keeper miscue to pull one back in the 74th minute.

Six minutes later, the Azkals gave up a foul inside the box, giving the visitors a penalty attempt.

Krishna Roy sank the penalty to cut the Azkals' lead to just a single goal with around ten minutes left.

With an opportunity to pull even, Fiji pushed the pace and came within inches of getting an equalizer off a scramble near the Azkals goal. Fortunately for the Pinoy side, a game-tying goal did not materialize, and they held on for a 3-2 victory.

"This was a good game as preparation for Tajikistan, because they were a little bit physical," said Man of the Match Misagh Bahadoran during the post-match press conference. "The team did a very good job, it's just that, as coach said, the transition, we just have to switch on, even in the last two, three minutes of the game. In football, anything can happen. One small mistake, we can suffer."

"Hopetully ww can learn from our mistakes and coach can teach us how to correcr the problems we had for this game." Bahadoran added. 

The Azkals now shift their focus to the all-important AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match against Tajikistan on Thursday, also at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Kickoff will be at 7:30 PM

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