Tue. Sep 26th, 2023

Philippine Azkals

Philippine Azkals. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippine Azkals wrapped up the September international window with a 2-1 comeback win over Afghanistan in a friendly match held Tuesday at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Jens Rasmussen scored the equalizer after an incredible solo effort before a Christian Rontini header turned out to be the winner for the Azkals in front of their home fans.

Coach Michael Weiss’ squad atoned for last Friday’s 1-1 draw against Chinese-Taipei in Kaohsiung when the Azkals conceded a goal in the dying moments of the contest.

Both results should help boost the national men’s side before plunging into action in the World Cup/Asian Cup Qualifiers.

Two friendlies are slated next month for the final international window prior to the qualifiers.

The manner of how they won is something the Azkals will carry into the next couple of months, especially after allowing Afghanistan to go ahead in the second half.

Omid Popalzay broke the ice in the 64th when he volleyed Farshaad Noor’s cross into the roof of the net, much to the dismay of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge after the Afghan substitute was left unmarked inside the box.

But the Azkals were able to draw level in the 74th when Rasmussen dribbled all the way from midline before firing a low left-footed shot against two defenders, a move that thrilled the partisan audience.

Rontini later produced his first international goal with a header off Bienvenido Maranon’s cross in the 81st to put the host in front for good.

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By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.