Deyto saves Azkals

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Monday, April 28, 2014


THOUGH relatively new to the squad, 24-year-old Patrick Deyto played like a true veteran and saved the day for the Philippine Azkals with one of the biggest saves of his life.

In the waning minutes of the Fifa friendly match last night at the Cebu City Sports Center pitch, the Malaysia Tigers were awarded with a potentially game-changing penalty after an Azkals defender was caught with a hand ball inside the box.

Veteran forward Safee Sali, the top scorer of the current Tigers squad, took the penalty and the 30-year-old Malaysian striker, who came off the bench, struck the ball well. However, Deyto guessed right and his outstretched hand deflected the ball to save his team and deny the Tigers’ their best scoring opportunity.

“The kicker has all the pressure. For me it was 50-50 and I’m not thinking much on that penalty shot. I just gambled one side and luckily he placed it there,” Deyto, who plays for the Green Archers United in the UFL, said in the post-match press conference.

The match ended in yet another deadlock, making it four in a row between both teams.

Deyto was on top form all night long, taking everything the Malaysia squad had to offer offensively.

The Azkals looked like a different squad in yesterday’s match compared to their scoreless draw with Malaysia last month in Kuala Lumpur and were more fluid and aggressive on offense, which pleased new Azkals coach Thomas Dooley.

“In the end I’m very happy with the draw. I think in the last five minutes we deserved to win,” he said.

In the later part of the second half, Azkals striker Nate Burkey, who came off the bench for OJ Porteria, had a hat-trick of near-misses that could have changed the complexity of the match.

Burkey hit a header from a well calculated pass by midfielder Martin Steuble but just barely missed the target. Another strike flirted just above the crossbar, while his final strike bounced off it.

This is the Philippines’ last match before leaving for Maldives next month for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup. The Azkals’ first assignment is against Afghanistan on May 21, followed by Laos on May 22 and Turkmenistan on May 24.

Malaysia coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee admitted that the Azkals were more impressive this time around.

“The Philippines, as what I see, have improved their ball movement, No. 35 (Steuble) was good and No. 21 (Jason de Jong) was also good. It will be very easy for the Philippines to score against a team that doesn’t know their style.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 29, 2014.

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