Mark Hartmann impresses in 5-0 rout of Papua New Guinea
MANILA, Philippines — Mark Hartmann made a strong case for his inclusion in the Philippines’ AFF Suzuki Cup side, knocking in four goals in a 5-0 crushing of Papua New Guinea in a friendly at Rizal Memorial Stadium Sunday night.
Hartmann scored all his goals in a blistering first-half performance, highlighted by a rocket of a volley in injury time as the Azkals made mincemeat of an opponent ranked more than 60 places lower in the world.
Quicker on the ball and technically superior, the Azkals dominated the game and hardly gave the PNG Kapuls a sight on goal in the match meant to keep them sharp for the Suzuki Cup next month.
But the Filipinos failed to add to their goal tally in a drab second-half performance when the home side sent in five reserves and looked sloppy at times, running out of ideas on its attacking third.
The night belonged to Hartmann, who has earned a reputation as a scoring machine in the United Football League, but remains untested at the international level.
The Fil-British striker seems to have turned the corner after being left out of the national side for quite some time due to what team insiders described as an attitude problem.
“It’s all in the past and my focus right now is to keep my spot,” said Hartmann. “When coach picks me, I have to make the most of my chance. When I continue scoring, it’s going to be hard for him not to pick me.”
“He (Hartmann) did his job which is to score goals,” said Tom Dooley. “We all know he’s an incredible player and he just had to prove that with the national team. I hope he carries it in the next games against difficult teams. But we’ll continue to push him to get better.”
Phil Younghusband scored his 38th goal in his 63rd game for the national side, after Hartmann’s pass released him inside the area five minutes before halftime.
Dooley said there’s plenty of work ahead if the Azkals are to make an impact in the Suzuki Cup.
“Defensively, we are not on top of it yet,” said Dooley. “We have to close the gaps more. I know it doesn’t happen overnight.”