Saturday, December 1, 2012

Philippine Azkals advance to AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 Semis; Defeat Myanmar 2-0

Phil Younghusband had been uncharacteristically quiet for most of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup.

In the Philippine national men’s football team’s final group match against Myanmar, the Azkals star striker finally broke his silence.

Younghusband scored his first goal of the tournament at the 46th minute, as the Azkals booked a 2-0 victory for a berth in the semifinals of the tournament for the second straight time.

Angel Guirado put the icing on the cake late in injury time with a breakaway goal for the final tally.

Younghusband, the team’s top scorer, was aggressive early in the match, testing the Myanmar goalkeeper with an early free kick and a long shot. But a feisty Myanmar side kept the match scoreless at halftime, speeding up the match to kept the taller Azkals on their toes.

The Philippines, however, delivered the telling blow right after the break, after excellent effort by midfielder Jason de Jong gave Younghusband the daylight for a shot that found the back of the net.

Myanmar did not go quietly, threatening to tie the game, but its poor finishing coupled with steady goalkeeping by Eduard SacapaƱo kept the Azkals sheets clean.

The victory gave the Philippines a total of six points, in second place in Group A behind opening match tormentor Thailand, which finished with nine points. The Azkals will face the first-place finisher in Group B, which still depends on the final pair of matches on Saturday.

Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are all still in the running to finish in the top two of that group.

The first leg of the home-and-away semifinals is set on December 8 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, which would be the first Suzuki Cup final four match that will be played on Philippine soil. In 2010, the Azkals were forced to play their home leg in Indonesia because of a lack of suitable venues in the Philippines.

The second leg is slated on December 12.

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