Asian football

Azkals cruise past Timor Leste for 1st win in AFF Suzuki Cup

Juro Morilla
Azkals cruise past Timor Leste for 1st win in AFF Suzuki Cup

DEBUT. Fil-Swedish defender Jesper Nyholm gets his first goal for the Philippines.

Philippine Football Federation

Seven different goal scorers propel the Philippine Azkals to a much-needed triumph

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals bounced back from their opening-match loss with a 7-0 victory over Timor Leste in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Saturday, December 11, at the National Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.

The result gives the Azkals their first 3 points of the tournament as they look to finish no worse than second in their five-team group to advance in the coveted semifinal stage. 

Philippine right-back Martin Steuble opened the scoring festivities at the 21st minute by unleashing a well-taken left-footed shot outside the penalty box. After receiving the ball from Angel Guirado with the inside of his right foot, Steuble set up his shot with another touch before firing at the goal. 

Amin Nazari bagged his second goal of the tournament as he doubled the Philippines’ lead at the 34th minute by collecting a loose ball inside the penalty box and hitting a powerful left-footed shot after Stephan Schröck produced a cross from the left wing. 

The third goal arrived two minutes later as Guirado, who recently celebrated his 34th birthday on December 9, got on the score sheet with a towering header as team captain Schröck created another sublime cross down the left wing. This is the third straight time Aderito Raul Fernandes, Timor Leste’s goalkeeper, had a touch of the ball and still let it in.

Patrick Reichelt found the back of the net at the 40’ mark after a scintillating team play by the Azkals. The short passing of Bienvenido Marañon, Guirado, and Steuble carved open the Timor Lester backline. 

Jesper Nyholm also had a debut match to remember as the central defender headed in Kevin Ingreso’s corner kick at the 45th minute. Soon after the restart, the Philippines immediately stole the ball from Timor Leste and completed a swift counter-attack as naturalized striker Marañon punished yet another mistake from Aderito. 

Schröck’s cross was parried away by the goalie to prevent an easy tap-in for Guirado, but the ball bounced nicely to Marañon to finish the first half with a commanding 6-0 lead for the Azkals. 

Ingreso grabbed the last goal of the match as he lashed in a left-footed shot near the penalty spot after Yrick Gallantes headed down the ball following Kenshiro Daniel’s cross from the right wing. 

Timor Leste, on the other hand, stays at the bottom of Group A with a record of zero points and a -11 goal difference after three matches. This means that finishing second in the group will be mathematically impossible for the Timorese. 

Despite going out of the tournament this early, they can still play a huge role in determining the semifinalists as they battle Singapore – the current group leaders with 6 points and a +4 goal difference – on December 14 for their last match. 

Needing a crucial win to keep their semifinal hopes alive, the Azkals started the match very well with two attempts – a left-footed shot by Reichelt and a right-footed shot by Guirado – inside the first two minutes. The former lacked the power to test Fernandes, while the latter had enough power to beat the goalie, but lacked the accuracy. 

The Azkals continued to push for their first goal of the match as Ingreso and Nazari, the goal scorer for the Philippines in their last match, each had a shot in the 12’ and 14’ mark, respectively. Both shots though, were off target once again.

It went downhill from there for the Timorese as the Azkals scored six goals from the 21st minute till the halftime whistle. The Philippines had 57.4% of the possession in the first half, 88.7% pass accuracy, and had a total of 16 shots – with 10 of those on target.

Both teams each made four substitutions to begin the second half. The Philippines brought in Kenshiro Daniels, Mikel Baas, Yrick Gallantes, and Oskari Kekkonen for Schröck, Amani Aguinaldo, Marañon, and Nazari respectively.

Meanwhile, Timor Leste called up Junildo Pereira, Jhon Frith, Mouzinho Barreto de Lima, and Paulo Gali off the bench to specifically replace Aderito, Dom lucas Braz, Rufino Gama, and Olegario Barreto Hornal Pereira Boavida. 

Daisuke Sato, Azkals’ left-back tried to get into the scoresheet as he had two shots in the second half, but both were off the mark. 

Kekkonen and Mike Ott, who subbed in for Guirado in the 71st minute, also attempted to add more goals in the match, but it was the latter who was the closest to capture another goal for the Philippines. 

Timor Leste’s best chances in the second half probably came from Mouzinho, who slipped away from the Azkals defense at the 49’ mark, but was eventually flagged offside by the linesman. He had another chance in stoppage time, but his shot just went across the goal. 

The Azkals will aim for a second consecutive win as they take on Thailand on Tuesday, December 14, 5:30 pm, at the same venue. –