The Philippine Azkals completely had their way against Guam, taking a 3-0 rout in the penultimate fixture of their joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers at the Sharjah Stadium in UAE, Friday evening (Manila time).
The result increased the Filipinos’ points tally in Group A to 10. A win by China over Maldives later secures coach Scott Cooper’s men a place in the third qualifying round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Despite the scoreline, Cooper lamented that his players could have played better throughout the contest. “We’re pleased with the result but the performance was patchy. What I mean by patchy is we play well for five or 10 minutes then (we) have five or 10 minutes when we didn’t play so well.”
“At this level, I’m not happy with that because we can’t have those periods of time where we keep dropping in and out of quality.”
The Azkals enjoyed a dream start to the game thanks to Angel Guirado in the 12th minute.
The sequence started when defender Jefferson Tabinas released the ball towards midfielder Oliver Bias. Then Bias eluded his marker, crossing the ball towards Guirado. From there, it was an easy tap into the net.
Bias almost had another assist in the opening period. He spotted Mike Ott just before halftime, but Mike Ott hit the side post.
The Philippines then continued its dominance over Guam upon the game’s resumption. They eventually got the all-important second goal in the 60th minute.
Returning midfielder Manny Ott delivered a good ball in the opposition box. Midfielder Mark Winhoffer then headed it towards goal, which Lopez then headed into his own net.
With the game virtually won already, Mark Hartmann added a third goal for the Philippines in the 88th minute with an impressive free-kick. It was the 29-year-old’s first goal in the Philippines jersey since he scored in a 3-0 win over Nepal in 2014.
Michael Kempter was a notable starter in the match considering he got a broken nose against China. Meanwhile, Jarvey Gayoso, Hartmann, and Winhoffer replaced Carli de Murga, Mike Ott, and Guirado respectively before the hour mark.
Justin Baas also came on for Luke Woodland before halftime.
“Our standards going forward with the Philippines, we’ve set much higher than that. Our ambitions are to play much better football than that… This game we showed moments where we can attack,” furthered Cooper.
“We didn’t have enough continuity in our game where we possessed the ball and that’s why we had to change the formation at half-time because it was clearly not working.”
The Philippines finishes its 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign against the Maldives on Tuesday, 10:00 PM at the Sharjah Stadium in the UAE.
Philippines XI: Schipmann (GK), De Murga, Tabinas, Woodland, Mike Ott, Guirado, Bias, Manuel Ott, Schrock ©, Reichelt, Kempter.
Guam XI: Jaye (GK), Lagutang, Evans, Prescott, Matkin, Lopez, Cunliffe ©, Halehale, Sato, Francis, Nicklaw.