The Philippine Men’s National Football Team only has one card left in this 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
Following its narrow loss to South Korea to kick off its campaign, hopes were high that the Philippines was capable at least a draw or even a win against Marcello Lippi’s China to put its campaign right on track.
However, the evening turned out to be a nightmare, as the Chinese outclassed the Filipinos, 3-0, in the Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
“We’re all disappointed but the result… We fought. We tried to make it a difficult game for China. We got got caught on two set-pieces which is sayang, because we were aware of the quality of China, especially that they are a physical team,” lamented skipper Stephan Schrock.
“Unfortunately, the result is a little bit too high, and we weren’t able to actually put pressure on them and create chances.”
And the chief instigator for China was forward Wu Lei.
The 27-year-old scored two fantastic goals to break down the Filipino defense. His outstanding play was simply too much for the Philippines, who hoped to contain the opposition as long as it could and score on the counterattack.
“This is the Asian Cup. These are the best teams in Asia, best players in Asia.
“They’re the difference between winning and losing a game when you’ve got quality like that. Two great finishes. As I said – that first goal really, we have to change our mindset in the way we play when we go 1-0 down playing 5-4-1,” admitted Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband.
“But yeah, very good finish. But you expect that and you can’t give any of these players a second on the ball. Otherwise they’re gonna do that sort of thing,” the veteran campaigner added.
It was a difficult pill to swallow for the Azkals. They now need to win their final Group C assignment and hope that other results in the tournament go their way, so they finish as one of the best four third-placers in the group stage to advance to the Round of 16.
“We really want to advance.
“Obviously it’s hard to say now because we have two losses and we haven’t scored (a goal). But we want to advance. For that, we have to beat Kyrgyzstan to have a small chance,” said Schrock.
It is what it is, but with one card left on the table, there’s no other choice for the Azkals but to go for it.