The dream of seeing the Philippines become South East Asian champions is extended as the Philippine Azkals are now out of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Thailand cemented itself as Group A winners as it won 0-1 against the Philippines tonight at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. Sarawut Masuk scored the solitary goal of the evening at the 80th minute.
“It’s always bad, disappointing. I just have to say that the players played with heart and they played what they could as long as their legs were moving. They tried to do everything and that’s what it is,” commented Azkals coach Thomas Dooley.
With the stakes so high, the Philippines had no option but to attack as soon as the referee blew his whistle. Thailand, though, was still the dominant side in the period despite having star strikers Teerasil Dangda and Sirod Chattong on the bench.
Up front for Thailand was Mongkol Thosakrai who was a menace for the Azkals throughout the half. Thokrasai displayed his prowess early in the game when he forced a routine stop from Philippines goalie Roland Muller in the opening stages.
Amidst Thailand’s relentlessness, the Philippines could easily have clinched the lead after just eight minutes of play when Stephan Schrock’s freekick was deflected towards the post. The away side, though, easily repelled the danger.
It then became and end-to-end contest from both teams. Thai goalie and standing captain Sinthaweechai Hatthairattanakool easily saved attempts from Hikaru Minegishi and Schrock while Kroekrit Thawikan shot wide at the other end.
Hatthairattanakool was then forced to make a good save afterwards when he parried away Mike Ott’s effort. From the moment onwards, it was Thailand which looked to draw first blood and put one nail on the Azkals’ coffin.
Charyl Chappuis easily outran the Filipino defenders and should have given Thailand the lead, only for Muller to deny him with a fine safe. Just before the break, the Thais had the best chance of the game so far. Thawikan crossed the ball which was headed narrowly over by Thosakrai with the goal at his mercy.
It finished Philippines 0-0 Thailand at the half. The Azkals had a lot to do if they wanted to beat the War Elephants for the first time in 40 years to enter the semi-finals.
Similar to the past two games, the a much-improved Azkals side went onto the pitch after the break. Manuel Ott looked to get on the scoresheet, but his two attempts failed to test Hatthairattanakool early in the period.
Chances then came aplenty for the Azkals. Martin Steuble forced an easy catch from Hatthairattanakool and then substitutes James Younghusband and Misagh Bahadoran linked up with the Filipino-Iranian missing narrowly in the Thai box.
Suddenly, Thailand had a spring in its step. Sarawut penetrated the Azkals box and unleashed a cross which, thankfully for the Philippines, wasn’t converted at the opposite flank. The Thais inched closer to a goal as Thawikan hit the side-netting.
At the 80th minute, however, came the end of the Philippines’ hopes. Sarawut went through on goal and clinically dispatched the ball past Muller to score for the away side. There were 10 minutes left in the game and the Azkals needed two goals, but the Thailand defense easily dealt with the circumstances.
In the end, the Philippines lost 0-1 versus Thailand and that just compounded the ill feeling as Indonesia won 2-1 against Singapore. Thailand and Indonesia go through to the semi-finals as the Philippines and Singapore are eliminated.
“There isn’t much more in there. Individual mistakes you will have that always. We couldn’t score, that was bad. Overall, obviously we would like to go to the next round. It’s disappointing and we have to move on,” Dooley concluded.
Philippines XI: Muller (GK), Ott Mr, Ott M, Schrock, Casambre, Younghusband (C), Aguinaldo, Steuble, Daniels, Minegishi, Christiaens
Thailand XI: Hathairattanakool (GK, C), Notechaiya, Thawikan, Promrak, Chappuis, Thosakrai, Lahsoh, Masuk, Namwiset, Deeprom, Boonyong