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Underdog Azkals put up strong defense vs powerhouse Korea

by | Feature, sports

DUBAI: It took South Korea well into the middle of the second half before finally being able to penetrate the Azkals’ formidable defense and – by sheer luck, it seemed – made a goal.

In the aftermath, everybody thought the Philippine football team would collapse, having lost momentum. But nay. The Azkals got their act together and tried to launch a counter blitzkrieg, even as the opponent killed time to secure their looming victory.

Indeed, throughout the game, the World Cup-class Koreans must have gone to Philippine territory over 15 times, but none made even a hairy close call.

The Azkals, on the other hand, did near-misses in the much, much lesser number of times they were able to bring the ball down the other side.
The Koreans were daunting as they were with their track record. They defeated 2014 World Cup champion Germany in the group stage of the 2018 Russia World Cup, 2-0.

But they seemed hovering between relentlessness and resignation as the Azkals kept them at bay.

This, while the Philippine team would, every now and then, barrel through their defenses like a juggernaut – i.e. till that spur-of-the-moment goal that made 1-0 on the 67th minute of the hour-and-a-half game.

The Koreans, grouped together next to the Filipinos, cheered wildly and so loud they drowned the Pinoys’ groans.

Pinoys had been praying for a 0-0 score, saying that’d be good enough. This, in between cheers taking cue from their rivals’ drum ensemble. And when indeed, the score remained locked in at 0-0 midway through the second half, they began holding their breath – konti na lang tapos na ang laban!

Observers say the worst is over for the Azkals AFC Asian Cup debut following their match with South Korea.

As the boys’ veteran coach Sven Goran Eriksson told The Filipino Times at a press conference held two days before the match, “We hope we can go through to the second stage. We know it’s very difficult as we start against one of the toughest opponents, South Korea. I think that if they can stand up to the other teams, starting with South Korea, we can have the possibility of advancing to the knockout stages.”

The Azkals have two more games:

• Friday, Jan.11 at 5:30pm
Philippines vs China PR at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium (Abu Dhabi)
Get your tickets to the PH vs China AFC tickets here.

• Wednesday Jan. 16 at 5:30pm
Philippines vs Kyrgyzstan at Rashid Stadium (Dubai)
Get your tickets to the PH vs Kyrgyz AFC tickets here.

Pinoys, close to a thousand of them at the Al Maktoum Stadium in Oud Metha, Dubai where the showdown happened, went home after the match with nary a long face. They knew their boys did good and could have held on to a 0-0 score till the game’s end if not for that tsamba goal.

Themed “Bringing Asia Together”, the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 in the UAE will be the venue for the world to witness the football fever with over 50 games in 8 stadiums across 4 host cities: Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai and Sharjah with a total prize money of US$50 million will be given away, including $5 million for the champion of the tournament.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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