MANILA, Philippines (5th UPDATE) -- The Philippine Azkals lost the game to Mongolia, 1-2, but they still advanced to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup group stage by winning the tie, 3-2, on goal aggregate.
The Philippines took an early lead via a James Younghusband goal in the third minute of their match that took place at the Mongolian Football Federation (MFF) Football Centre in Ulan Bator.
Mongolia, however, pulled one back in 21st minute through their skipper, Lumbengarav Donorov.
The hosts stormed ahead in the 34th minute, after Garidmagnai Bayasgalan scored on the rebound off a penalty.
The Azkals showed better defense in the second half to prevent another Mongolia goal.
The match in Ulan Bator was the second of their 2-leg qualifier for the Challenge Cup.
Phil Younghusband, who played a big role in the first leg of the qualifier, failed to finish the game after suffering a pulled hamstring.
Azkals coach relieved
After the game, Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss gave a sigh of relief, citing that it was not an easy match for his boys given the tough conditions in Mongolia.
“If all of you guys from the Philippines would have been here, [you] would understand… because we have tough and harsh conditions, minus 10, minus 12 degree [Celsius],” he said.
He said the weather noticeably slowed down the Azkals, thus affecting their reaction time.
“It is just normal, the players also were not happy with the performance but I told them that we have to be realistic and these conditions are not like in some tropical areas,” said Weiss.
“In the end, I'm happy that we're through,” he added.
Weiss, meanwhile, said that Phil will have to take a couple of weeks' rest because of his injury.
The final stats showed the Philippines attempting 12 goal shots aside from enjoying 7 free kicks. Mongolia had 16 goal attempts and 6 free kicks.
The Blue Wolves also incurred 2 yellow cards while the Azkals were meted just 1.
Aside from enduring the cold weather, the Azkals also had to shake off their bad experience in Japan, which was struck by an 8.9 magnitude earthquake last week.
The Azkals won the first leg, 2-0, at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City last month.
The following will be the tentative schedule for the Azkals’ Group Stage games (all games to be held in Myanmar):
- · 3/21 (Mon) - PHI vs. Myanmar, 3:30 p.m.;
- · 3/23 (Wed) - PHI vs. Palestine, 3:30 p.m; and
- · 3/25 (Fri) - PHI vs. Bangladesh, 6 p.m.
The Philippines-Mongolia match will be replayed on Studio 23 at 7 p.m.
The match will also be shown 3 p.m. on BALLS SkyCable Ch. 34.