The Philippines Azkals’ Under-23 team suffered a costly blow to its hopes of qualifying for the knockouts of the 2022 AFF U-23 Youth Championship after suffering a 1-0 loss at the hands of host nation Cambodia, Thursday evening at the Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Coach Stewart Hall’s men saw their floodgates open at the 81st minute thanks to a fine strike from Cambodian midfielder Sin Sovannmakara.
After goalkeeper Quincy Kammeraad deflected away midfielder Min Ranatak’s sniff at goal, the Filipinos failed to properly clear their lines off a corner, which allowed Sovannmakara to score past Kammeraad for the opener.
“We knew fitness was gonna be an issue and I thought tonight we saw that,” said Hall. “We tried really, really hard. We worked so hard. But physically, in the end, we had too many players who were struggling at the end.”
It was a heartbreaking turn of events for the Filipinos, who had chances to score in the contest.
The likes of Dennis Chung, Sandro Reyes, and skipper Oskari Kekkonen all had attempts in the first half but all failed to put the ball at the back of the net. In the second period, defender Miguel Mendoza saw his header agonizingly go over the bar from a corner.
“Rest and recovery now are absolutely critical,” added Hall. “The boys are in a good frame of mind because they’ve given everything. They know they’ve given everything so we’ll be ok.”
The result leaves the Filipinos with just one point in Group A after two matches while Cambodia tops the said group with 6 points. Timor Leste is in second place with 4 points following a 3-1 win over Brunei over the day.
The Philippines shall close its Group A assignments when it faces Brunei on Sunday at 8:00 PM Manila time.
Philippines XI: Kammeraad (GK), Maniti, Kekkonen ©, Chung, Reyes, McDaniel, Mendoza, Forrosuelo, Ouano, Rosquillo, Woods.
Cambodia XI: Kimhuy (GK), Bunchhai, Sambath ©, Pisey, Chanthea, Sosidan, Safy, Ty, Nora, Sovanmakara, Ratanak.