IF there was person that was happy with the performance of Jefferson Tabinas in his Azkals, it was his mother. The 22-year-old Tabinas made his Azkals debut on Monday night in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
“Jefferson’s mom played a big part in that too,” Azkals coach Scott Cooper said of Tabinas, whose father is Ghanaian. “She was crying when he made his debut which is nice. It was happy crying.”
The coaching staff and the fans were pleased as well.
Against China, the Azkals were right in the thick of the match until they conceded a penalty kick in the 56th minute. Other than that, the Virac, Catanduanes-born Tabinas, a member of second division side Mito HollyHock in Japan, proved his worth at the back in the 0-2 defeat.
He also held his own against strikers Elkesson, a naturalized player from Brazil, and Wu Lei, who was only able to knock in a goal after he was brought down by Azkals goalkeeper Bernrd Schipmann.
“I think everybody saw how he played,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami. “For such a young player, he impressed, I think, not just the coaching staff but also the fans who were watching the game. He made a really good impression.”
Cooper said: “Tabinas’ performance was excellent. I was pleased with his performance. It’s what I expected. The fans can see that. Hopefully, there will be more debuts (like that).”
Meanwhile, Michael Kempter is expected to suit up for the Azkals in Friday night’s match against Guam despite a broken nose.
Kempter was taken out of the match against China after he was left bloodied by an elbow against a player.
“The good thing is we will be seeing Michael Kempter in the next game,” said Palami. “Problem with the nose but I think there will be no problem with his game.”
It’s a different story, however, for Kenshiro Daniels, who sustained a hamstring injury in the China match.
“We are taking it day-by-day. Our doctor will be doing an MRI but he feels that is not a debilitating injury. Maybe a Grade 1 strain but we are keeping it on a day-to-day observation,” he added.
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