by Carlos Santamaria
MANILA, Philippines – Two goals from the Younghusband brothers allowed the Philippine Azkals to draw 2-2 vs Indonesia in the second of a series of three FIFA-sanctioned international friendly games at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on Tuesday, June 5.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss initially surprised everyone by keeping James and Phil Younghusband and keeper Neil Etheridge on the bench, although in the case of the latter he may have decided to reward young Roland Muller for his excellent performance in last week’s goalless draw against Malaysia.
Weiss admitted that the Younghusbands are “pillars” of Filipino football but explained he wanted to give other players a chance.
Better chances in the first half
The first half started out with few chances for either side and superior Indonesian ball possesion, while the Filipino players failed to connect more than three or four consecutive attempts and relied on Sabio’s throw-ins to get to the heart of the rival defense.
Precisely one of these throw-ins made it all the way to the center of the box, but Angel Guirado’s good header hit the crossbar.
That opportunity awakened Indonesia’s passing game and the away team slowly started getting closer and closer to Muller until Irfan Bachdim, who earler has been disallowed a goal for offside, was clearly fouled inside the area by two Filipino defenders, but the referee refused to call a penalty.
Crazy ten minutes
After the break, Weiss introduced Etheridge and the Younghusband brothers in a firm attempt to score.
The Azkals started gaining more and more posession, but in the 56th minute, a cross from the left side caught the Filipino defense off-guard and Wanggai got an easy header past Etheridge.
Only three minutes later, James Younghusband pounced on a poor clearance by the Indonesian defense and tied the game 1-1.
And in a crazy ten minutes, poor defending by the Azkals enabled striker Irfan to run through on the left and slotted the ball into the bottom of the net amid the dissapointment of the fans.
But the Philippine National Team did not give up, and kept going for the goal, cheered on by the crowd at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Rumble and equalizer
A few minutes after scoring, Irfan got himself sent off after he shoved and attempted to punch the linesman after a foul was awarded to the Philippines.
Caligdong and Ott also saw a red card for the Azkals after Irfan’s action, which should have seen only him ejected from the game.
Down to 9 men against 10, the Filipinos kept pushing and finally, six minutes before the end, Phil Younghusband lashed onto a loose ball in the box and powered his shot beyond the keeper to make it 2-2.
It stayed that way, as the Azkals enjoyed fewer chances while the Indonesians milked the clock until the referee blew the final whistle.
Revenge will have to wait
The Azkals were thus unable to exact revenge upon Indonesia, the same country that knocked them out of the AFF Suzuki Cup two years ago.
Nevertheless, the Philippines played so well that game that they rekindled an interest for football in the country despite failing to qualify for the final against Malaysia.
After drawing 0-0 with Malaysia on June 1, the Azkals will wrap up their series of three consecutive friendly games against Guam on June 12 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
The exhibition matches are FIFA-sanctioned, hence the results will affect the world ranking of the Philippines, currently 148. - Rappler.com