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Gamel’s Boys Scare Philippines

Gamel’s Boys Scare Philippines
Vodafone Fijian football side go through their warm-up session at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila, Philippines on March 22, 2018. The Christophe Gamel coached-side went down 3-2 after fighting back from a 3-0 deficit. Photo: FijiFA Media
March 24
10:26 2018


The Vodafone Fijian football side fought from a 3-0 deficit to bow out 3-2 against the Philippines at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila on Thursday night.

Wellington Phoenix striker Roy Krishna led Fiji’s comeback when he came in as a substitute. He first set-up Ame Votoniu to tap in the first goal before scoring from the penalty spot as the hosts held on to win.

Philippines used the game to build-up for their crucial AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Tajikistan on Tuesday.

“I think it was a good training session for us,” Philippines coach Thomas Dooley said.

“Playing against some fast forwards, playing against a team that can pick it up like that.”

Misagh Bahadoran had the match’s first clear attempt in the 16th minute, but his strike was off to the left by a few inches. Just moments later, Manny Ott’s strike from inside the box was brilliantly saved by Fijian goalkeeper Epeli Loaniceva.

The hosts broke the ice in the 30th minute courtesy of a penalty kick from Phil Younghusband after Bahadoran was fouled inside the box. It was the 49th international goal for the Philippines skipper.

Simone Rota came very close to doubling the lead in the 43rd after his attempt from the right flank hit the left post and bounced very near the goal line.

Loaniceva gathered the ball and play resumed, although some Philippines argued with the referee insisting that the ball had bounced on the goal line.

The Philippines brought in five substitutes to start the second half, with Dylan De Bruycker, Sean Patrick Kane, Nick O’Donnell, Hikaru Minegeshi and James Younghusband taking the pitch. In the 53rd minute, Minegeshi doubled the score with a solo run and shot from close range. Eleven minutes later, Kevin Ingreso was at the right spot at the right time, gathering a rebound off a block from Loaniceva to rifle in a brilliant long-range left-footed screamer that made it 3-0.

Then the Fijians started making things interesting.

A failed clearance by O’Donnell resulted in an easy tap in by Ame Votoniu in the 74th minute to cut the lead to 3-1.

Then in the 81st, O’Donnell fouled Krishna who got up and converted the resulting penalty kick. What seemed like a safe three-goal lead was not just down to 3-2.

The Bula Boys pressed hard for the equaliser in the last minutes of the match, but they ran out of time as the Philippines defense held firm despite some shaky moments.

The Philippines need only a draw against Tajikistan next week to qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Edited by Leone  Cabenatabua


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