by Jonas Terrado
Game Wednesday (Panaad Stadium, Bacolod City)
8 p.m. – Philippines vs Thailand
The Philippine Azkals overcame a late charge by Timor-Leste to secure a 3-2 victory Saturday and keep pace with defending champion Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Malaysia.
Phil Younghusband scored his 52nd international goal while Martin Steuble and Carli de Murga also found the back of the net, giving the Azkals their second win in Group B to stay level with Thailand at six points apiece.
Thailand, which the Azkals will face next on Wednesday at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, beat Indonesia 4-2 in the other Group B match at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.
The Azkals had to weather a Timor-Leste threat in the final 15 minutes on goals by Nataniel Reis and João Pedro before holding on for the win in the match held in the Malaysian capital.
Younghusband put the Azkals on the board in the 27th minute, scoring from an opening space at the center of the box.
Steuble doubled the Philippines’ lead, six minutes later when he converted a low drive from almost 20 yards out.
De Murga made it 3-0 for the Azkals in the 68th after heading Kevin Ingreso’s free kick, which turned out to be the needed cushion to secure the full three points.
The Azkals opted to start Michael Falkesgaard as goalkeeper instead of Neil Etheridge, who won’t be available for the final two group stage matches to resume his Premier League duties with Cardiff City.
Etheridge, who started in the Azkals’ 1-0 win over Singapore, is due to fly back to Cardiff on Sunday.