THE man who made the victory possible was missing when the celebration began.
Despite scoring the winner in the Philippine Azkals' 1-0 win over Turkmenistan on Tuesday night in their Asian Football Federation Challenge Cup Qualifiers match, Phil Younghusband missed out on the post-game party after being ejected late in the game for picking up two yellow cards.
The Azkals strike star was first handed a card a minute before first-half stoppage time when he was caught for a deliberate handball, before he incurred a second infraction in the 84th minute when he was called for tripping a Turkmenistan defender.
The Azkals hitman insisted the two incidents didn't merit yellow cards.
“I didn’t mean to get red carded,” he said after the game. “Those were two nothing offenses, one was a handball and one was pulling one player back. There was nothing malicious.”
Still, the ejection blemished what had been a near-perfect performance from Younghusband in the Group E Qualifiers.
Against Cambodia on Sunday, he accounted for half of the Azkals’ goals in their 8-0 win, before he scored in the 67th minute against the Turkmen in a goal that proved enough to propel the Filipino booters to the Challenge Cup main tournament in Maldives next year.
“I couldn’t even celebrate with the players out on the field after, but the most important thing was we qualified,” said the 25-year-old Filipino-British booter, who is expected to serve his suspension in the first game of the final round in March.
Younghusband, whose five goals in the qualifying tournament stretched his international goal total to 33, felt he had the chance to score more after being the recipient of numerous pinpoint passes from left winger Stephan Schrock.
“We did well. I could’ve scored ten goals, but the most important thing was we won the game,” he said. “The more we play together, the better we get.”