Last March, The Philippine Men’s National Football Team (Azkals) produced a stunning 3-2 comeback win over North Korea at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
This time, though, there wasn’t any dramatic, come-from-behind win as the Philippines succumbed to a 1-3 loss to North Korea.
“That’s what we wanted. We want to play against strong teams so that we can see what kind of mistakes we do. Obviously those are the players we have at the moment and it’s tough obviously to beat teams like that because you can see the players are a little bit taller,” commented Azkals mentor Thomas Dooley after the game.
Dooley added, “We cannot manage to play against those guys in corner kicks and free kicks. That makes it very difficult.”
Pak Ryong (10′), Pak Chol (38′) and Jong Gwan (67′) produced the goals to give the visiting side retribution for their chastening defeat the last time both countries played.
On the other hand, substitute Iain Ramsay (76′) gave the Philippines a consolation goal.
Similar to the Bahrain game days earlier, the Azkals had a lackadaisical start to the contest. From the get-go, it was obvious that the Philippines struggled offensively and it would take something impressive to beat the sturdy North Korea defense.
As tight as North Korea were defensively, their attack was also superb. Jorn Andersen’s squad played a passing game that broke down the Azkals defense numerous times.
A North Korea goal was inevitable, and it took only until the 10th minute for the visitors to break through, as Ryong jumped highest and headed the ball home to give his country the lead.
The Azkals tried to respond immediately, and Manuel Ott was brought down outside the North Korea box. Phil Younghusband stepped up to take it, but his effort failed to test North Korea goalie Ri Myong Guk.
That was as good as it got for the Azkals before the break. North Korea kept pummeling the home side’s defense, and they got their reward in the 38th minute when Chol doubled their cushion to 0-2 at halftime.
The second half didn’t get better for the Azkals. North Korea were once again in control of the game and the Filipinos were at their mercy as they consistently tested the Azkals’ defense.
An uncharacteristic defensive lapse from the North Koreans almost allowed the Philippines to pull a goal back, but the Azkals fluffed their chance.
North Korea then launched a swift counterattack to increase their lead to 0-3 in the 67th minute, when Gwan directed the ball past Azkals goalie Roland Muller.
Out of the blue, the Philippines were able to get a goal in the 76th minute. Ramsay lobbed the ball above an incoming Guk and the ball bounced into the North Korea net to make it a more respectable scoreline of 1-3.
Phil Younghusband had a shot on goal in the game’s closing moments, but substitute goalie Ri Kwang Il easily dealt with it. In the end, the Philippines lost 1-3 to North Korea, a setback to their 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup preparations.
“You could also see we are always behind, we are always a step slower, we are always one or two steps behind reacting too late. Those games are good to learn from. The players have to find solutions,” concluded Dooley.
The next game of the Azkals will be against Kyrgyzstan on November 9, 2016, at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Philippines XI: Muller (GK), Mike Ott, Woodland, Manuel Ott, Phil Younghusband (C), Aguinaldo, Ingreso, Schrock, Steuble, Daniels, James Younghusband.
DPR Korea XI: Myong Guk (C & GK), Jang Chol, Song, Kang Chol, Bom, Pak Chol, Gwan, Hyon, Ri Chol, Uk, Ryong.