The experience gained by the Philippine Azkals when they fought against strong competition in the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup 2019 will be cherished by members of the team.
Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said this after the Azkals bowed to the Kyrgyzstan White Falcons, 1-3, Wednesday night in Group C hostilities at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s an extremely good experience to see what it’s all about to play in a big tournament. (Against) teams like China, Korea, and Kyrgyzstan, if you are not up to it 100%, you don’t win games like these,” said Eriksson in a post-game interview provided to the Manila Standard by the Philippine Football Federation.
The White Falcons leaned on a hat trick by Vitalij Lux in repulsing the Azkals.
Lux scored on the 24th, 51st and 77th minutes, to lead the White Falcons to their only win in three games in the group stage.
On the other hand, Stephan Schrock scored one for the Azkals with a header, 10 minutes from time.
The win helped the White Falcons earn a slot reserved for the third-placed squad in the round of 16.
The White Falcons joined early qualifier Bahrain, third in Group A.
The two are now in the company of Thailand, Jordan, China, Iran, South Korea, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, and Australia.
“We met a team that is physically stronger than ours. And they won a lot of 50-50 balls. And, it’s tough to really stand up against them,” added Eriksson.
Kyrgyzstan was up and ahead on the 24th minute with Luz putting his shot into the top right corner of the net following an assist from Akhlidin Israilov.
Lux had an opportunity to add a second goal in the final minute of added time in the first half. But his attempt from up close went straight into an onrushing goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard, who saved the ball with his body.
The Philippines took off to a good start in the second half, with Schrock sprinting down the middle before the defense stopped him.
Then, Lux fired home another goal in the 51st minute after Bekzhan Sagynbaev passed from the left.
The Azkals had another attempt on the 54th minute, with Manuel Ott moving down the middle before Javier Patino attempted a shot.
But Patino’s attempt was saved by goalkeeper Kutman Kadyrbekov.
Lux then got a chance to shoot the team’s third goal in the 77th by slotting in the rebound after Mirlan Murzaev’s effort had hit the post.
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