MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals bounced back in style as they romped past Brunei, 5-1, to notch their first win in the 2022 AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup on Friday, December 23, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Quick-fire goals from Kenshiro Daniels and Sandro Reyes set the tone for the Azkals, who redeemed themselves following their 3-2 loss to Cambodia in the tournament opener.
Daniels opened the Philippines’ scoring at the seventh minute after slotting in the ball past Brunei goalkeeper Haime Abdullah Nyaring off a magnificent through ball from Azkals teammate Pocholo Bugas.
Reyes, who made his first start in the tournament, doubled the Azkals’ advantage five minutes later with his stunning left-footed strike outside the penalty box.
Jesus Melliza and halftime substitute Sebastian Rasmussen then scored a goal each in quick succession as they pushed the Philippines’ lead to 4-0 at the 50th and 51st minutes.
Brunei earned a consolation goal after halftime substitute Razimie Ramlli drilled in a shot from close range at the 70th minute to deny the Azkals a valuable clean sheet.
Rasmussen completed his brace at the 88th minute with a left-footed shot off an assist from Oliver Bias.
The Philippines’ breakthrough win puts its group stage points tally to 3 points, which is now on par with Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia in Group A.
But defending champion Thailand (+5) still sits on top of the group due to a superior goal difference compared to the Philippines (+3), Indonesia (+1), and Cambodia (0).
New Azkals head coach Josep Ferré continued to roll with a 4-4-2 formation, but tweaked the starting lineup as he picked goalkeeper Julian Schwarzer, Reyes, Melliza, Bugas, and Audie Menzi to start the match.
Goalkeeper Kevin Hansen, Simen Lyngbo, Kamil Amirul, Hikaru Minegishi, and Yrick Gallantes all made way for the new starters against Brunei.
Only Jefferson Tabinas, Daniels, Bias, Amani Aguinaldo, team captain Stephan Schröck, and Mark Hartmann kept their place in the starting 11 after the opening shock defeat to Cambodia.
Daniels almost tripled the score with a powerful right-footed shot, but his attempt was successfully saved by the Brunei goalie at the 33rd minute.
Both teams made substitutions to begin the second half as Brunei’s Khairil Suhaimi and Ramlli entered the match to replace Wafi Aminuddin and Adi Said, while Rasmussen came in for fellow goal scorer Daniels.
The Philippines continued to push for more goals as Ferré decided to put on some fresh legs by replacing Aguinaldo, Hartmann, and Schröck with Jarvey Gayoso, Christian Rontini, and Henry Nuñez.
At full time, the Azkals had 62.8% of the ball possession and accumulated 11 shots on target en route to the dominant victory.
The Azkals will shoot for their second tournament win against Thailand at 8:30 pm on Monday, December 26, at the Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani. – Rappler.com