Azkals mount late comeback, stun North Korea

Earl Leonard Sebastian - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals ended their FIFA World Cup Qualifying bid on high note, shocking powerhouse North Korea, 3-2, before a capacity crowd of 7,351 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday.

With less than ten minutes to go and the Azkals down 2-1, coach Thomas Dooley needed one final spark to ignite a last-minute comeback against the North Koreans.

Who else could the nationals to go to but a veteran of several international campaigns, striker and midfielder James Younghusband

Checking in for Misagh Bahadoran, Younghusband did not score the winning goals, but his presence provided a boost to the team as he orchestrated key plays for Manuel Ott and Iain Ramsay.

“We were just looking for the right timing to bring him in,” said Dooley. “He was doing good in training and we did not want to rush him much”.

The Azkals coach also gave credit to forward Miguel Tanton, who started on his debut with the men’s senior national football team.

“I know what he can do for the team and we knew that he would do in today’s match. He was making good passes,” Dooley added.

The game was a fitting sendoff for defender Juan Guirado, who is to retire after the match. As a tribute, he was named as the team captain for the match.

It also capped the Azkals’ campaign for berth in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with the team finishing third in Group H behind Uzbekistan and North Korea. The victory also sent the Filipino booters to the qualifying third round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

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