‘Thrilling victory’

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014


SUBSTITUTE Chris Greatwich yet again made a huge goal to bring the Philippines a win away from taking home the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup title and slot in the Asian Cup after beating host Maldives in the semifinals,3 -2, last Tuesday night.

Greatwich, who came in for Jerry Lucena in the 46th minute, scored the go ahead goal in the 104th minute for the thrilling win by the Azkals over Maldives at the National Stadium in Male, Maldives.

Phil Younghusband got the Azkals going early, scoring the opening goal in the 18th minute. Mohammad Umair leveled the playing field with a lovely lob in the 36th minute against Roland Muller. But Lucena quickly answered with a goal two minutes later to give the Azkals a 2-1 edge at halftime.

In the 54th minute, Maldives won a penalty kick. However, Ali Asfaq’s penalty kick was perfectly telegraphed by Mueller, who swatted away his second penalty save of the tournament.

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With just three minutes on the pitch, substitute Abdullah Asadhullah made his presence felt immediately scoring yet another equalizer by Maldives in the 63rd minute.

The Azkals move on to the championship round against Group A leader Palestine tonight at the National Stadium.

“It was a great match, but not for us on the bench. But overall we were hungry for this victory. In the end I am very pleased with how the team played against their great players who are always dangerous. Overall, I think that we deserved to win. We had great chances in the first half but we did not put them away,” Philippines coach Thomas Dooley told the-afc.com.

Palestine advanced after a 2-0 victory against Afghanistan earlier.

This will be a rematch of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup battle-for-third place, which the Philippines edged out Palestine, 4-3.

The champions of the AFC Challenge Cup get the last remaining slot in Group of the AFC Asian Cup with Jordan, Iraq and defending champion Japan in Group D.

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

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