Azkals tie Malaysia 1-1
Denis Wolf scored in the 34th minute for the Azkals, but Malaysia put one in right before the end of the game on the 91st minute

AZKALS HAVE BEEN HAPPIER. The Azkals wave the Philippine flag after their game against LA Galaxy on December 3, 2011. Beth Frondoso.

MANILA, Philippines – The men’s Philippine football team tied the Malaysian national team in a FIFA-sanctioned international friendly on home turf.

The Azkals tied their opponent 1-1 after a hard-fought, tight match. Denis Wolf scored a beautiful header on the 34th minute, off a strong throw-in by Jason Sabio. Malaysia’s Ahmad Shakir MD Ali of Malaysia however, broke the hearts of Filipino fans when he netted the ball in the 91st min.

Both teams had a number of good chances but the Azkals’ defense stayed solid throughout the game, warding off the attempts of a quick and determined Malaysian team. The only goal conceded by the Azkals hit the bottom left corner, after Shakir MD Ali faked out a defender.

The Philippine side for their part missed several free kicks in the first half, while Malaysia’s counter-attacks led to close shots on goal.

The second half saw exciting chances from both sides that lacked finishing touches. Two consecutive shots by Angel Guirado almost gave the Azkals another goal but both times, the ball found the hands of the goalie.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge came out with important saves as well including a deflection on the 57th minute from a dangerous free kick and another on the 79th minute where in he got a touch on Malaysia’s Safiq Rahim’s shot, putting it over the crossbar.

This game is the Azkals’ last before they compete in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup in Nepal next week. Their first match is against North Korea on March 9.

The draw is especially impressive considering the fact that Malaysia is the defending Suzuki Cup champion and the 2011 SEA Games gold medallist. More to follow. –

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