BIÑAN, LAGUNA — The Philippine Under-22 Men’s National Football Team left everything on the pitch, but it just was not enough.
With one eye on the proceedings of the Cambodia-Malaysia game, the Azkals prevailed 6-1 against Timor Leste, Wednesday night, at the Biñan Football Stadium in front of 3,300 fans.
However, with Cambodia’s 3-1 win over Malaysia, the Filipinos exit Group A of the Men’s Football Tournament of the 2019 SEA Games with 7 points. They were level with the Cambodians, but with a lower goal difference of +5 to Cambodia’s +6.
A late goal from Nataniel Reis deep in stoppage time — which Azkals goalie Anthony Pinthus should have handled better — set the Philippines on its way towards the exit door.
The Azkals enjoyed a dream start to the contest when midfielders Yrik Gallantes and Stephan Schrock combined to take advantage of a mistake from Timor Leste goalkeeper Aderito Raul Fernandes. The Ceres-Negros star opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
Things were going well for the Filipinos, with an equalizing goal from the away side ruled out due to an infraction. Schrock then played another crucial part, delivering a corner that defender Amani Aguinaldo headed home before the break.
Timor Leste was down and out come the second half, while the Philippines pounded the visitors’ goal. Mar Diano headed in Schrock’s free-kick in the 54th minute. Dylan de Bruycker followed with neat strike in the 78th minute. Aguinaldo then completed his hattrick with two more goals in the 86th and 90+1 minutes.
In the end, though, the young Azkals ran out of steam and chances. They conceded a crucial final goal, exiting the competition heartbroken. Still, they can hold their heads high after proving the future of Philippine football is in good hands.
Philippines XI: Pinthus (GK), Aguinaldo, Suerti, Baas, Diano, Gayoso, De Bruycker, Rontini, Schrock ©, Gallantes, Uzoka.
Timor Leste XI: Fernandes (GK), Mendonca, De Oliveira, Dos Reis ©, Savio, Martins, Almeda, Mesquita, Da Costa, Kefi, Belo.