The Philippine National Football Team stunned world No. 105 Kyrgyzstan, 2-1, in an international friendly on Tuesday at the Omurzakov Stadium in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Despite the absence of key players, the resilient Azkals, ranked 134th in the world, managed to pull off an upset to kick off their preparations for the Suzuki Cup on a high note.
The host started the game aggressively with consecutive attacks but goalkeeper Neil Etheridge foiled all their attempts to score.
The Azkals raised the games’ tempo a few minutes before the break as Kevin Ingresso scored his first international goal via a free kick sent by skipper Phil Younghusband, giving the Azkals a 1-0 advantage at the half.
The Filipinos doubled their lead immediately after the midgame ceasefire courtesy of the goal by Misagh Bahadoran off an assist by Junior Muñoz in the 53rd minute.
After conceding two consecutive goals, Kyrgyzstan finally scored through a conversion from Vitalij Lux in the 60th minute to cut the deficit to a single goal.
The Azkals suffered a blow as Simon Greatwich, who came in as a substitute for Iain Ramsay in the 63rd minute, conceded a penalty after a foul on a Kygyz attacker.
However, Etheridge stood firm to block a shot by Lux in the 89th minute.
Kyrgyzstan directed a series of raids in hopes of eliciting a draw but the Azkals’ defense was impenetrable until the final whistle.
The Azkals will play against the Kyrgyz booters anew on November 9 for the second part of the two-legged exhibition series at the Philippines Sports Stadium (PSS) in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The Azkals is scheduled to play two more friendlies in October as part of their training for the Southeast Asian Championship—against Bahrain on October 6 and North Korea on October 10. Both games will be played at the PSS.