Azkals’ Black Friday
BOCAUE—The Philippine Azkals bowed out of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2016 after conceding a late goal to defending champion Thailand, 1-0, last Friday night at the Philippine Sports Stadium.
Thai forward Sarawut Masuk broke away from the Azkals’ defense and drilled in a goal in a one-on-one with Roland Muller to give The War Elephants the go-ahead in the 81st minute of the match.
With a few more minutes left, sub Misagh Bahadoran had a perfect chance for an equalizer but his shot was deflected by Thai keeper Sinthaweerchai Hathairattanakool.
“I said our motivation was to win the game. We had it in our hands. We needed to win the game to go to the next round. If we made it to the next round we have a huge chance of making it to the finals. But we had to win this game first, but it didn’t happen. You can say that if they played their best 11 we didn’t have a chance but you never know in football.
Today we had a chance but we couldn’t score and we lost one to nothing,” a clearly disappointed Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said after the match.
A draw by the Philippines wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because Indonesia came from behind to beat Singapore, 2-1, in a match played simultaneously at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Thais rested some its stars Chanathip Songkrasin,Kawin Thamsatchanan and Teerasil Dangda. But the Azkals couldn’t capitalize on it despite getting majority of the ball possessions at 52 percent and getting more goal attempts and shots on target compared to Thailand.
The Philippines had 12 goal attempts and seven shots on target compared to Thailand’s nine and three.
The Azkals were very aggressive at the onset with an offense run by midfielder Stephan Schrock and striker Mike Ott.
The Philippines had a perfect chance to score in the first half with a cross by Hikaru Minegishi from the left side to skipper Phil Young Husband, but it hit and bounced off the far post.
Just before halftime, Mongkol Thosakrai threatened to score with a header that just went above the crossbar.
The Azkals continued to play aggressive in the next 45 minutes and had some good looks at the goal but somehow the ball wouldn’t hit the back of the net.
“They are a good team,” Thailand head coach Kiatisuk “Zico” Sinamuang lauded the Philippines. “They played more passion in this game because they needed the three points.”
Though down and out, the Philippines, now ranked 117 in the latest FIFA rankings, will regroup and set a new target, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asia Cup qualifiers in March.
“We need to plan constant training sessions maybe everyday. This is something we have to be careful with to prepare and not give players too much rest. Maybe a four-week preparation, training constantly to get better day by day,” said Dooley.