Azkals beat Kyrgyzstan in final friendly before Suzuki Cup

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The Philippine National Football Team triumphed over Kyrgyzstan, 1-0, in their last friendly match before the Suzuki Cup through the 65th minute goal of Misagh Bahadoran at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium late Wednesday evening.

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It was a slow start with both sides unable to sink goals until the halftime break.

Veteran James Younghusband tested the waters 11 minutes into the game sending a cross to the attacking Iain Ramsay but the latter failed to score.

Kyrgyzstan almost took the upper hand in the 33rd minute following the conversion of defender Azamat Baimatov but his header was rendered invalid because of a prior foul.

The Azkals launched sharper attacks in the second round as substitutes Bahadoran and Junior Muñoz came in.

Manybekov Amanbek of Kyrgyzstan (left) defends the ball against Misagh Bahadoran of the Azkals as coach Thomas Dooley looks on during an international friendly match between Philippines and Kyrgyzstan at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila on Wednesday. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

Manybekov Amanbek of Kyrgyzstan (left) defends the ball against Misagh Bahadoran of the Azkals as coach Thomas Dooley looks on during an international friendly match between Philippines and Kyrgyzstan at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila on Wednesday. PHOTO BY DJ DIOSINA

The insertion of fresh legs into the match-up paid off for the Filipinos as Ramsay and Bahadoran blasted through their defenders with the latter scoring the only goal of the game.

The visitors launched relentless assaults in the dying seconds of the match but were unable to pierce through the Azkals’ defense until the end of regulation.

“I’m happy with the result. It’s not just that, I’m happy with the commitment of the players. We were really organized and we really did what we talked about in this game,” head coach Thomas Dooley said during the postgame news conference.

He noted that he is not particularly pleased with the first half performance of his wards but commended their fighting spirit.

“They continued to go forward and try to help each other out on attack, it was not that much in the first half but in the second half their effort was great,” he said.

The American coach added that they would be fine-tuning some aspects of their game with three more training sessions left before the big tourney later this month.

The Philippines will be hosting Group A of the preliminary round of this year’s Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championships at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan starting November 19.

The Azkals need to go through Singapore, Indonesia and champion Thailand in the group stage to earn a berth in the next round of games.

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