Breakthrough for Mulders
BANGKOK—The agonizing wait for a first international goal ended Saturday night for Paul Mulders at the AFF Suzuki Cup here.
But the Fil-Dutch midfielder left the Rajamangala Stadium pitch in a somber mood after the Azkals fell in a 1-2 loss to host Thailand in a bruising encounter at the start of the prestigious tournament.
“It would have been better if we got something out of the game,” Mulders said after breakfast at Golden Tulip Hotel here.
Mulders had been longing for time on the pitch ever since he linked up with the Azkals here after struggling to get minutes with his Dutch first division club ADO Den Haag this season.
Being with the Azkals has become a sanctuary of sorts even though he had misgivings with the position he was tasked to fill when he joined the side.
Mulders was deployed as leftback, filling in for the absent Ray Jonsson in the World Cup Qualifying against Sri Lanka last year.
Eventually, Azkals coach Michael Weiss assigned the 30-year-old to his preferred position as an attacking midfielder, which augured well in the campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup where he assisted on one of Phil Younghusband’s four goals.
It was in the AFC Challenge Cup where Mulders tantalizingly came close to scoring three times. He was up to the task Saturday night.
Getting a cutback from the excellent Patrick Reichelt, who came in as a substitute in the 60th minute, Mulders beat Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchan with a left-footed strike from 10 yards with 13 minutes left to play.
“It (the goal) is going to help my confidence a lot,” he said. “I still think we can do better in the next two games.”