The Philippine men’s national football team scored its first pandemic victory and has solidified its grip for a ticket to the third round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers with a splendid 3-0 win over hapless Guam on the eve of the Philippine Independence Day in the Sharjah bubble on Friday.
The ragtag team of long time Azkals and rookies conspired to rebound from a heartbreaking 0-2 loss to China last Monday.
“We’re happy with the result and we’re satisfied with the performance and we know we can do better now,” remarked new Azkals head coach Scott Cooper, who has won his first tournament victory as national team coach after inheriting the position from Goran Milojevic, who coached the Azkals in 2019.
Ten-year veteran Angel Guirado teamed up with rookie Oliver Bias to score his eleventh international goal in the 12th minute with a running strike off a Bias cross from the left wing. The two started as forwards for the Azkals, with the 19-year-old Bias replacing veteran Mark Hartmann.
Guam tried to tie the game in the first half injury time but the sneak strike by ex-Pachanga stalwart Marcus Lopez was saved by goalkeeper Bernd Schipmann.
Mike Ott tried a second goal thereafter but it bounced off the right goal post.
The Azkals went on to score two more goals in the second half.
In the 60th minute, Lopez inadvertently scored an own goal, with Mark Winhoffer’s header bouncing off Lopez’s body after a free kick by Manny Ott from the left wing.
Hartmann, who entered as a substitute, scored his eight international goal with a looping free kick off the left wing in the 88th minute.
A win by China over Maldives later tonight (as of posting time) will confirm the ticket of the Philippines to the third round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualification tournament but will also close the 2022 FIFA World Cup journey of the Azkals.
The Azkals’ final game for the second round is on June 15, 10 PM (Manila time) against bitter rivals Maldives.
(Image from The Philippine Football Federation Facebook page)