Azkals bow out of Bangabandhu Cup semis against Tajikistan

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The Philippine Azkals bow out of contention in the semifinals of the 2018 Bangabandhu Cup after going down two goals to nil against Tajikistan on Tuesday at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

It was a rain-soaked and muddy pitch that both squads clashed with as the Tajiks seized the role of tormentors early in the proceedings as they exhibited better overall play.

Despite some chances for the Central Asians, the Philippines were able to hold off most of their forays into and shots in the danger zone. Most of the heroics of the Filipino squad came from goalkeeper Michael Casas who was able to come up with some crucial saves and denials.

But the breakthrough did arrive in favour of the more aggressive side dubbed as “The Crowns” as they were able to find the back of the net in the 32nd minute courtesy of Komron Tursunov.

The goal proved to be an encouraging one for the Tajik side as they headed into the halftime break with a reward for their sustained efforts during most of the proceedings.

After the restart, The Philippines tried to give a much better account of themselves as they mount up and threw some attacking spells to their opponents. However, chances for an equaliser came far and few.

Seven minutes after the hour mark though, a collision between Philippines’ goalkeeper Casas and Tajikistan’s Pahimov put a significant amount of stoppage in the proceedings as the keeper was treated with a head wound while the Tajik was substituted out.

In the 81st minute, a freekick was awarded to Tajikistan off a bookable offence by Ian Clarino, but once again Michael Casas rose to the occasion to keep the scoreline, headband and all.

Five minutes after, Jarvey Gayoso was presented with a chance but he put too much power in his shot that the ball flew way over the bar.

A ray of hope for the Azkals to work out an equaliser did arrive as 12 minutes of added time was merited due to the earlier stoppage in the proceedings.

But it seemed more that the development worked in favour of Tajikistan as they were able to pad their advantage further six minutes into injury time as Aktam Nazarov buried his attempt off a counterattack that caught the Filipinos, who were employing a high back-line as they chased the game, off guard.

In the end, Tajikistan proved to be the better side as they earn their ticket to the Final at the expense of The Azkals’ campaign.

Azkals Starting Eleven: