On a night when Filipino sports fans needed a positive result to boost their moods, the Azkals delivered.
The Philippine national football team dominated their foes Chinese Taipei, 5-1, at Rizal Memorial Football Stadium on Wednesday, September 3 to book a showdown with Myanmar in the Peace Cup final.
With the nation reeling following the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team’s heartbreaking loss to Puerto Rico in the FIBA World Cup, the Philippine team did not disappoint. Mark Hartmann scored a brace while Rob Gier and James Younghusband also scored goals. An own goal by Taipei’s Chen Yi Wei lifted the Azkals’ tally to 5, while Yen Ho-Shen scored Taipei’s lone goal.
Taking the field on a rainy day, shifted their offense to full throttle immediately on the start of the match sending attacks after attacks to the defense of Chinese Taipei.
Meanwhile, the running Phil Younghusband found the trailing Manny Ott in the 6th minute but his header went wide to the left.
Two minutes after, Ott struck another one but his shot goes straight to the hands of Chinese Taipei’s goalie Pan Wei-Chih.
Several attacks from the Taiwanese came as a response to the pressing offense of their rivals but the Filipinos held their ground to defend their home turf.
On the other hand, team captain Gier scored his first international goal for the Azkals as he struck a sneaky header deep inside the box on the 25th to take the lead for the home squad, 1-0.
Not long after, a breakaway run by Misagh Bahadoran led into another goal for the Philippines as his pass found James Younghusband who then fired a shot past the Taiwanese keeper to extend the lead of the Azkals to 2-0.
Game officials were forced to stop the game in the 57th minute as rain started to pour down on the match causing the field to flood. As per FIFA regulations, a 30-minute break can be imposed after the temporary stoppage to any game.
As the game resumed, an own goal on the 65th minute was sank by Chen Yi Wei who tried to clear a shot from an Azkals attack but the ball went into their team’s goal.
Adding up to the lead of the Filipinos, Mark Hartmann capitalized on a pass from Jason De Jong in 74th minute. Several minutes after, Hartmann clipped another goal to seal the deal for the home squad, 5-1.
Palestine vs Myanmar
Consequently, the Myanmar National Football team stunned the AFC Asia Cup-bound Palestine, 4-1.
The initial minutes of the bout was highlighted by a series of exchanges on both ends of the field as the top Asian national clubs tried to snatch an early advantage over each other.
As the game progressed, an opening goal stunned the Palestinian defense as a shifty move from the Myanmar right flank exposed a hole on the defense to strike a short cross to the unmarked Kyaw Zayar Win who then chipped it to the far side of the post to take the early lead for his squad.
A few minutes before the half, another goal was scored by Nay Myo Aung to extend the lead of the MYAs to 2-0.
To add into the problems of the Palestinian side, a lousy clearance from the defense led to another goal from Zayar Win to cushion Myanmar’s lead to 3-0.
The Palestinians fought to spark a comeback but the Burmese proved to be too strong for their offensive blitz.
Meanwhile, a breakaway run from the Burmese side spearheaded by Kyaw Ko Ko led to a goal as Nanda Lin Kyaw Chi went through the back line to receive a pass from to the former and score the final goal for Myanmar.
A swift counter attack by Palestine resulted in a goal as Ahmed Wridat struck a late game goal off a cross coming from the left side to reduce the lead of Myanmar at the end of the match to 4-1.
The tournament was originally to be a single Round-robin tournament format with match dates on September 3, 6 and 9. However, the PFF received an advisory from FIFA on August 28 informing them of the new “two-match per international window” regulations. Therefore, the PFF revised the format to allot a maximum of two matches.
The finals match between the Philippines and Myanmar will be held on Saturday, September 6 at the RMFS.