Ali being adorable. The usual.


Ali training with Nate Burkey from the Philippine men’s national football team

Azkals sparkplug Misagh Bahadoran happy to finally score 1st international goal:

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Philippine national men’s football team veteran Misagh Bahadoran has always been known as a sparkplug for the Azkals, always providing the energy and added bite on the midfield whenever his name is called.

But an international goal had been elusive for him. That changed on Thursday night when he scored a goal in the Azkals’ 2-1 win over Bahrain in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

“I’m happy that I scored my first international goal against Bahrain,” Bahadoran said.

He could have finished with a hat trick, actually, if not for two misses. His attempt at the 59th minute was foiled by the Bahrain defense, only to be saved by Javier Patino who made a rebound goal.

Bahadoran also attempted a nice header at the 75th minute which just went wide off the post.

“He could have scored three goals today,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said.

With his contributions, it is surprising to know that Bahadoran wasn’t even on the field when the match started. He only subbed in midway through the first half when Azkals star Stephan Schrock left the game with a knee injury.

The accidental lineup shuffle paid off for the Azkals as Bahadoran scored the opening goal at the 50th minute after flicking in a one-footed shot off a Phil Younghusband cross from the left flank.

“It was a fantastic ball by Phil, he closed very well. He saw my movement especially Patino he brought the defender with him which gave me a bigger space for me to score,” Bahadoran said.

Dooley praised Bahadoran’s will to help the squad despite finding himself coming off the bench instead of as a starter.

“Misagh came in, he lost his starting position obviously. But he came with the desire and did an excellent job,” Dooley said.

“That was a spark for us.”

With Schrock likely to miss the Azkals’ next match against Yemen, Bahadoran is expected to fill the gap following an impressive performance.

Bahadoran is glad to earn Dooley’s trust.

“I’m so happy that coach trusted me to put in the big game after Schrock (got injured),” Bahadoran said.