Playing with intensity and urgency in the first 30 minutes of the game did the trick for the Philippine Azkals national men’s football team.
This was the assessment of team skipper Phil Younghusband scored two goals that powered the Azkals to a 4-1 drubbing of the Nepal Gorkalis on Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
“In the first 30 minutes, our intensity, our urgency was very good. Once we went 3-nil, we took some touches and slowed the play down here and there,” said Younghusband.
This gave the Azkals their first win in Group F in the opening game of their third qualifying round campaign the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup football tournament.
The Gorkhalis were supposed to play with better stamina than the Azkals after three weeks of high altitude training back home.
But as the Azkals’ sheer determination prevailed and managed to hold on to a 3-1 advantage at halftime.
Things changed after the Nepalis played with only 10 in the 13th minute.
And this was after Nepali midfielder Bikram Lama was given a red card for a hand ball violation.
After that Nepal’s Japanese coach Koji Gyotoku said they had difficulty controlling the right wing, and with Azkals wingers Jeffrey Christaens and Iain Ramsay taking charge.
“We got a big chance. Our big chance was the penalty (that did not go in). And the second one, it led to the other. The second one needed to go in. Then, it was easy,” said Azkals coach Thomas Dooley.
Younghusband, whose penalty shot was saved by goalie Kiran Kumar Limbu in the 12th, finally struck with 21st and 23rd minutes.
He scored on a penalty in the 21st after he was tackled from behind by Rabin Shresta, and then broke past two defenders in the right win in the 23rd for a header.
In the 28th minute, Ramsay scored from the left side after receiving a shot that popped out from a scramble inside the penalty area.
Nepal made an effort to score a goal and broke through in the 1-minute injury time of the first half,off Bishal Rai’s attack.
In the second half, Dooley decided to pull back Younghusband from the front and into the middle to give the Azkals some rest.
And they still scored as Javier Patino found the net in the 73rd. He struck from the inside the box after getting a loop of pass from Younghusband, and the ball sailing past four defenders.
The Azkals now get ready for a tougher match, and that’s on June 13 against Tajikistan as they bid to move closer to one of two slots to the 2019AFC Asian Cup.