MANILA, Philippines – Striker Phil Younghusband was the hero in the Philippine Azkals’ AFC Challenge Cup qualifier against Turkmenistan, scoring the lone goal of the match in the 67th minute to power the team to a 1-0 win.
But Younghusband would not see the end of the match, as he was booked for a second yellow card in the 85th minute after committing a foul on a Turkmen player. His first yellow card came with moments to go in the first half.
Younghusband was sent off, but the Philippines held on for the victory after goal-keeper Roland Muller saved last-gasp attempts from Turkmenistan.
“The red card, it wasn’t intentional,” Younghusband explained in an interview on ANC’s Headstart Monday. “It was probably the softest red card (I’ve received).”
Younghusband noted that red cards are usually given when players commit bad fouls or dangerous challenges.
“Those were fouls that another ref may not have given anything,” he said. “But that’s part of the game, it’s gamesmanship. If you don’t get caught, you don’t get punished.”
He took the opportunity to teach young football players, saying: “For any young player coming up, you have to watch out for that.”
Phil and older brother James agreed that the Turkmenistan game was “very, very physical,” with three Azkals players getting booked.
“They (the Turkmenistan players) do little things that aggravate you – pull your shirt when the ball is on the other side of the field, they’ll pinch you, stomp on your toes,” Phil related. “They do little things that you don’t see on TV, little things that aggravate you.”
James, who came in as a sub for Angel Guirado in the 66th minute, said he was kicked by a Turkmen player.
“The crowd on my side saw it and they were heckling (the opponent). I went running back to him and gave him a few words, and he ignored me,” he said.
Phil’s red card may prove costly as he will be suspended for the Azkals’ first game in the main tournament in Maldives, but for now, he and James are relishing the victory against Turkmenistan.
“We played Turkmenistan in the semi-finals last year, and they are the team that knocked us out, so we needed our revenge,” Phil said.
“They feel that they have something to prove, especially as they are coming to the Philippines and (playing) in front of our home crowd,” James said of their opponents.
“They wanted to upset everyone, but again, we got a good result. It was hard fought and well-deserved, and it was nice to get a bit of sweet revenge from last year in the Challenge Cup,” he added.