By Alder Lamo
MANILA, Philippines – The Long Teng Cup-bound Philippine Azkals used a strong second half to dominate United Football League’s Kaya Cignal FC, 5-nil, Saturday at the end of the I Can Serve Foundation Football Invitationals before a sizable crowd at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The Azkals gained much needed confidence and cohesion with their new lineup heading into the 4-nation Long Teng Cup which is scheduled on Sept. 30-Oct. 4 in Taiwan.
Mark Hartmann opened the scoring parade of the national squad in the second half via penalty kick in the 55th minute. The 19-year old Fil-British striker sailed his attempt above Kaya Cignal’s wall defense to score the stunning goal.
Fil-Spanish Angel Guirado, who just arrived from a brief vacation in Spain two days prior to the match, made the second goal with a crossover fake off his defender at the 67-minute mark of the match. Three minutes later, Chieffy Caligdong followed up a saved shot by Kaya Cignal’s goalie Saba Sadeghi to hike Azkals’ lead, 3-nil.
Phil Younghusband, who aggressively attacked Kaya Cignal’s defense all throughout the match, finally gained ground with two goals – a great feed from his brother James in the 82nd minute and the final goal four minutes later.
Fil-German goalie Roland Muller also made a good account of himself in his debut with the team, saving four attempts of Kaya Cignal as Sudanese striker and the UFL leading scorer Izzeldin El-Habbib was held scoreless.
“I am satisfied with our game especially in the second half. We struggled in the first half as I gave Angel [Guirado] some playing time, one day after coming back. Phil and James [Younghusband] played great especially James on defense,” Azkals coach Michael Wise said.
It was a fitting follow up to Azkals' opening 3-2 win against UFL Cup champion Global Smartmatic last Wednesday.
The national team will leave for Taiwan on Wednesday.