Azkals beat Mongolia in AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers

MANILA – Gerrit Holtmann made a huge impression in his first Philippine men’s football team appearance as he scored with only a few seconds left from full-time to lift the Azkals to a stunning 1-0 win against AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers and Group B host Mongolia at the MFF Training Center in Ulaanbaatar on Saturday.

Despite only having a few days to train following his arrival in the Mongolian capital right after the Azkals’ draw against Yemen, Holtmann proved to be the difference as he struck the game-winner with only 20 seconds to go.

The play began when Manny Ott found Holtmann open with his corner kick, and Holtmann dribbled a bit to get some separation from Tuguldur Munkh-Erdene before launching a powerful shot that Munkh-Erdene Enkhtaivar could not tap out.

Mongolia was given a chance to go for one last crack at goal, but Ott cleared the ball out to the sideline after Oyunbaatar Otgonbayar tried to sneak it in from the midfield.

Holtmann’s late goal somehow made up for Patrick Reichelt’s missed penalty in the 78th minute that could have given the Azkals the lead earlier.

Holtmann’s winner shot spoiled an impressive outing by Enkhtaivar who, aside from saving Reichelt’s penalty, also saved Dylan de Bruycker’s close-range shot just before Holtmann won it for the Azkals.

The win momentarily put the Azkals on top of Group B with four points, but Palestine and Yemen will subsequently play later with the result likely to shake up the three teams’ bid to make the Asian Cup next year.

Mongolia was knocked out of Asian Cup contention following the its stinging defeat by the Philippine Azkals.