SEA Games: U23 Azkals clash with dangerous Timor Leste | Inquirer Sports

SEA Games: U23 Azkals clash with dangerous Timor Leste

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 10:18 PM November 06, 2011

JAKARTA—The Philippine Under-23 Azkals gun for their first win against what appears to be a more formidable Timor Leste side on Monday, hoping to stay alive in their hunt for a football medal at the 26th Southeast Asian Games.

Kickoff is at 5 p.m. (4 p.m. in Manila) at the Lebak Bulus Stadium with the Azkals looking to rebound from their 1-3 loss to Vietnam in their debut Thursday.

Considered one of the weaker teams in the competition, the Timorese quickly made everyone in the football roster take a second look at them after striker Murilo scored two goals inside the final 26 minutes in the 2-1 comeback over Brunei Saturday afternoon.

The Azkals cannot afford another setback, most especially since Myanmar had forged a scoreless draw with Vietnam, also on Saturday, to tie the Vietnamese for the Group B lead.

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Myanmar’s first win came at the expense of Laos also Thursday when it came back from a 1-2 deficit to win, 3-2, with two late goals.

Laos and Brunei also look for their victories when they clash in the 7 p.m. contest.

Against a more organized and cohesive Vietnamese side, the Azkals were forced to defend for long stretches and striker Mark Hartmann said they will be changing their approach against Timor.

“We’ve got to attack, and there’s no ifs and buts about it,” Hartmann told the Inquirer on Sunday, hours after a light workout.

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“We may have gotten the strong team (Vietnam) out of the way (after a 1-3 loss on Thursday), but we’ve got to win our remaining games,” the 19-year-old half-Briton, a younger brother of team skipper Matthew, added.

Team officials have pointed to fatigue as the reason why the Azkals were unable to protect the 1-nil lead with the enormous pressure put up by the Vietnamese. Four of the Azkals players, including the goalscorer against Vietnam, Manny Ott, arrived just two days in this bustling Indonesian capital from different parts of Europe.

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Ott, who reconsidered his decision of not playing here at the last minute, gave the Azkals a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute only for the team to surrender three goals in the second half.

“They were fatigued,” team manager Dan Palami said.

Roland Muller, whose brilliant goalkeeping kept the Vietnamese at bay early in the match, will again man the net.

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After that loss, the players held a meeting among themselves, according to team coordinator Patrick Bright, to improve cohesion.

TAGS: 26th Southeast Asian Games, Azkals, SEA Games, Sports, Timor Leste

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