MANILA – Philippine Azkals were unable to reach the finals of the 2018 Bangabandhu Cup after a 0-2 defeat to Tajikistan in the semifinal round at the Cox’s Bazar Stadium in Bangladesh.
Despite the defeat, the Filipino team handled by Anto Gonzales still had a remarkable campaign, considering that some key players were not in the lineup.
Tajikistan were aggressive on the goal at the onset of the Tuesday night match, testing the defense of Azkals’ goalkeeper Louie Casas before breaking the deadlock in the 31st minute on a conversion by Komron Tursunov.
The Azkals tried several times to penetrate the defense of Tajikistan, but to no avail, forcing Gonzales to tweak his roster by inserting Angel Guirado and Jarvey Gayoso into the field for veterans Misagh Bahadoran and Kenshiro Daniels.
Casas sustained an injury on the face in the second half – further dampening the Philippines’ force – but was not subbed out. He just wore a headband to cover his wounds instead.
Tajikistan went on to challenge the defense of Casas. They nearly scored in the 81st minute on a free kick by Dzaxongir Ergasev from a foul by the Azkals’ Ian Clarino, but the attempt was defended well.
The Philippines went for the kill in the final minutes but Tajikistan goalkeeper Rustam Rizoev did just enough to prevent an Azkal goal. The Tajiks then widened the lead to 2 on a late hit by Axtam Nazarov.
Tajikistan will wait for the winner of the other semifinals match, between Bangladesh and Palestine, which was being played as of press time. The finals will be on Oct. 12./PN