Azkals beat Hong Kong 1-0
The Philippine Azkals finally put the monkey off their backs with a 1-0 victory on the road over Hong Kong in a FIFA-sanctioned friendly on a rainy Tuesday night at the Mongkok Stadium.
James Younghusband scored the lone goal of the match with a piercing header in the 33rd minute that went straight to the net. The goal came from a broken play after a Hong Kong defender deflected a Stephan Shrock cross.
It was the country’s first win over Hong Kong in nine matches after piling up seven losses and their last meeting two years ago at the Long Teng Cup ended in a 3-3 draw.
Hong Kong, the 2011 Long Teng Cup champion, came away with 18 attempts, seven on target, compared to the Azkals seven and two. But Fullham’s back-up keeper Neil Etheridge was a picture of steadiness in between the post especially in the injury time when Hong Kong seriously threatened to salvage the match.
Etheridge, who hardly saw action in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, played superb goal keeping in the dying minutes thwarting a wave of last-ditch attempts from Hong Kong.
The huge victory augurs well for the Azkals who are preparing for next year’s AFC Challenge Cup, the second tier competition in the continent, following their unbeaten run in the qualifiers here last March.
The loss, meanwhile, was Hong Kong’s first in 2013 after holding 66th ranked Uzbekistan to a scoreless draw and winning over Vietnam, 1-0, in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. It was big blow to their confidence heading to an all-important Asian Cup qualifiers match against group leader United Arab of Emirates in October. The Hong Kong nationals are hoping to nail a slot in the top tier competition in Asia for the fourth time in the team history.
(Via Alder Almo)