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    Under-23 Azkals hold UFL All-Stars to a standoff

    Jul 15, 2013
    David Fornea helps the Under-23 Azkals hold the UFL All-Stars to a standoff with a goal in the 64th minute. Jerome Ascano

    THE Philippine men's 23-under football team stood its ground against an experienced United Football League All-Stars side in forging a 1-1 draw Sunday night at the packed Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill, Taguig.

    Still without their top players who are either recovering from injury or abroad, the 23-under Azkals nevertheless showed chemistry on the pitch in their first competitive match on home soil as a team to the delight of the huge crowd.

    The Starting 11 delivered in their own right, but it was substitute David Fornea who shone brightest for the 23-Under Azkals as the San Beda standout scored the tying goal barely a minute after coming in the 64th minute.

    Despite the stalemate, it was still an impressive result for the 23-under side, which is hoping to see action in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.

    “Hopefully if people can see these up-and-coming boys and see they deserve to play, then that's our aim,” Philippine coach Brian Reid said.

    Gaining experience from their 1-0 loss to their Singaporean counterparts in a friendly last month, the 23-under Azkals had  numerous link-up plays that led to chances that skipper Mark Hartmann and Joshua Beloya, however, failed to convert in the first half.

    “I was pleased with our performance, but on another night, I felt we should've won the game,” Reid said.

    “A lot of young players haven't really played on this magnitude so there are a lot of pluses that can be taken from this,” the Scottish mentor added.

    Continue reading below ↓

    The UFL All-Stars, composed of current and former national team mainstays and foreign stalwarts, drew first blood in the second half courtesy of Global's Izzo El-Habbib.

    Two minutes later, though, the 23-under Azkals retaliated with Fornea's goal off a rebound from his own missed header.

    “I was pleasantly surprised of the performance of the (23-under Azkals),” All-Stars coach Ernie Nierras said. “Even though they played against older guys, they were all composed.”

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    David Fornea helps the Under-23 Azkals hold the UFL All-Stars to a standoff with a goal in the 64th minute. Jerome Ascano
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