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Azkals clip Afghans in FIFA friendly at Rizal Memorial Stadium

By: Glendale G. Rosal - CDN Digital Correspondent | September 13,2023 - 05:07 PM


The Philippine Azkals nipped Afghanistan in their FIFA Friendly match in front of rabid hometown fans at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Tuesday evening, Sept. 12, 2023.  | Photo from the Azkals Facebook page.   

CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Men’s National Football Team, or the Philippine Azkals earned a come-from-behind victory against Afghanistan, 2-1, in their FIFA friendly match at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Tuesday evening, September 12, 2023.

Sebastian Rasmussen and Christian Rontini orchestrated the Azkals’ huge comeback late in the second half to give the Azkals the hard-earned win against the visiting Afghans.

During the match, each team had close calls, but none of their attempts were converted in the first half until Afghanistan’s ace midfielder Omid Popalzay broke the silence with a goal in the 64th minute.

Popalzay exploited the Azkals’ loose defense that paved for the goal after a long pass from his teammate.

Not to be outfought at their home turf, the Azkals equalized in the 74th minute from Rasmussen’s incredible goal.

Rasmussen who came from a substitution in the 55th minute for Santiago Rublico courageously took the entire defensive line of Afghanistan alone all the way to scoring the goal which caused the packed crowd at the Rizal Memorial Stadium to erupt in frenzied celebration.

With momentum shifting on their side, the Azkals scored another goal in the 81st minute courtesy of Rontini who found the back of the net with a perfect header from an equally perfect lob by Bienvenido Marañón that put them ahead, 2-1.

The Afghans had all the chance to equalize after the match was extended, but none of their last push of attempts found the net.

The victory marked Michael Weiss’ second win for the team as head coach.

The Azkals’ regular friendlies abroad and in Manila improved their FIFA world rankings from 136th last April to No. 135 in June.

It can further improve given they’re set to embark on other friendlies next month.


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TAGS: Afghanistan, Azkals, football

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