Azkals near semis berth
BACOLOD CITY—The latest in the long line of talents hailing from the country’s football hotbed, Barotac Nuevo, delivered a goal that could prove crucial to the Philippines’ hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup.
On a rainy Wednesday night at Panaad Stadium, Jovin Bedic came off the bench to rifle home the equalizer as the Azkals salvaged a 1-1 draw with Thailand to stay on track for a place in the semifinals.
Bedic’s deflected effort in the 82nd minute cancelled out an earlier strike from Supachai Jaided as the Philippines remained level with Thailand with seven points in Group B. Another point against Indonesia in Jakarta on Sunday will be enough for the Philippines to reach the next round.
The Azkals came into the match looking to end a 46-year winless spell against the Thais. And although they did not walk away with the maximum points, the battling performance was enough to impress coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.
In truth, the Azkals could have gotten more from the match had they been more clinical on goal as Phil Younghusband and Patrick Reichelt missed good chances in the first half.
“First of all I think we played very well 90 minutes,” said Eriksson. “We were the better team out there. A draw is okay but we could have won the game. I think we did very well against a good team.”
Eriksson believes this type of performance should put the Azkals in the semifinals.
“If we play like this we should qualify for the semifinals,” said Eriksson. “I think this is a very good performance for us.”
Meanwhile, team manager Dan Palami said the coaching staff would also be using the Suzuki Cup as a test for players who want to make the Asian Cup squad.
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