Etheridge defense, late Porteria goal lift Azkals past Myanmar
An OJ Porteria strike late in the match sealed the deal for the Philippines after defeating Myanmar to a 1-0 Wednesday, February 6, in Yangon.
Etheridge showed supremacy once again despite defensive frailties
Although he played just his first match since October, Neil Etheridge showed why he is still the Philippines’ number one custodian as he kept Myanmar at bay despite several chances by Myanmar on goal.
Perhaps one of Etheridge's most crucial saves was in the 57th minute, when the goalkeeper had to use his right leg to keep the ball from going through on goal.
But the lack of natural defenders almost cost the side as Coach Michael Weiss opted for a makeshift defensive line, forcing players out of position just to fill in the gaps, with Rob Gier the only natural defender in the starting XI.
Porteria’s talent is promising
It’s no mistake that Porteria’s goal showed how much talent the Kaya FC striker still has in his sleeve. His pace and diligence paved the way for his opener, a long range shot towards the far post that the Burmese goalkeeper was unable to reach.
Although he still needs to improve his game as he could have handed an assist late in the match had he provided the pass to an open Ian Araneta, but instead decided to go for a second goal for himself.
What’s next for the Azkals
For now the Azkals will relish this win, but they still need to keep their heads to themselves as their first real test of the year will be the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers this March at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
A semifinal finish in both the Challenge Cup and the Suzuki Cup last year were already enough a statement, but with the way the team has been playing it still leaves something to be desired now that most of the young players will be participating in the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar this December.