Holtmann snatches last-minute winner as Azkals beat Mongolia
Filipino-German striker Gerrit Holtmann makes a strong debut to hand the Philippines a crucial win as the Azkals close in on a second AFC Asian Cup appearance
MANILA, Philippines — Gerrit Holtmann delivered his debut as the Philippine Azkals recorded their first victory in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers after defeating Mongolia, 1-0, on Saturday, June 11, at the MFF stadium in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
As the game progressed into injury time, it looked like the Azkals faced another scoreless draw until Bundesliga hotshot Holtmann fired a left-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area to finally unlock the Mongolian defense.
After the massive triumph over Group B hosts Mongolia, the Philippines temporarily overtook Palestine in the standings with 4 points and a +1 goal difference.
Palestine, who are 3 points and one game short, will face Yemen later on Saturday to complete the second game of the day in Group B.
Meanwhile, Mongolia remain bottom of the four-team group with 0 points and a -2 goal difference after two games.
The first half was completely dominated by the Azkals as they had 80% possession of the ball and didn’t allow Mongolia to attempt a shot or have a corner.
On the other hand, the Filipinos managed 10 attempts in total, but only 2 were on target. They also had 6 corner kicks and 89% passing accuracy.
Despite having control of the ball most of the time and the attacking silence of the Mongols, the Azkals were unable to produce a goal in the first 45 minutes.
Bienvenido Marañon, who started after coming off the bench in the last game, was active up front and led the line well with Azkals debutant Holtmann remaining on the wing.
The Ott brothers, Mike and Manny, also had a lively halftime for the Azkals. The former was actually the first player to register a shot on target after launching a right-footed shot in the opening minute.
VfL Bochum winger Holtmann continued the Azkals attacking onslaught in the second half with a left-footed attempt from outside the box, but it only touched the side netting much to the delight of the local audience.
Mongolian Baljinnyam Batbold once again gave the fans something to cheer by dribbling past several defenders in the 64th minute, but his long-range shot didn’t bother Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge as he came through above the bar.
Holtmann, whose Filipina mother Rosemarie is “very keen” for him to finally play for the national team, was given another chance two minutes later but his left-footed shot went off target once again.
In the 75th minute, Jose Porteria was tackled by Bilguun Ganbold and the referee quickly signaled a penalty. Patrick Reichelt stepped in for the Philippines, but his right-footed shot was easily stopped by Mongolian keeper Munkh-Erdene Enkhthaivan.
The Azkals were given another penalty shot in the 85th minute after youngster Sandro Reyes fell in the box, but it was denied this time by Chinese Taipei referee Chen Hsin Chuan.
The Philippines then earned a final corner in added time which eventually led to a stunning winner by Holtmann.
The Azkals of the Philippines will close their campaign with a decisive clash against Palestine, world number 100, on Tuesday June 14 at 12:30 p.m. at the same venue.
A victory for the Filipinos in this last game will propel them to the top of Group B for a guaranteed place in the 18th edition of the prestigious quadrennial tournament in Asia. – Rappler.com