Azkals bow out of AFF Suzuki Cup following loss to Thailand

ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 25, 2016 10:18 PM
Azkals bow out of AFF Suzuki Cup following loss to Thailand
Stephan Schrock and the Philippine Azkals bow out of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup after losing to Thailand, 1-0, Friday evening.

The Philippine Azkals' 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign comes to and end after suffering a 1-0 loss to Thailand, Friday evening at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan. 

A tight contest throughout the first 80 minutes of the match, the Philippines again had numerous chances to break into the scoresheets, but were unable to convert. 

Azkals keeper Roland Muller put on a good defensive effort, save for one lapse, an 81st minute conversion from Sarawut Masuk, which proved to be the back-breaking goal for Thailand. 

The Azkals' elimination wasn't all Thailand's doing though, as Indonesia provided the proverbial final nail on the coffin of the Azkals' semifinals chances after coming back from behind to bead Singapore, 2-1 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. 

The Philippine Azkals began the tournament slow, only figuring in a draw against Singapore in the opener. Needing to come out stronger in their next game, the Pinoy side came from behind after skipper Phil Younghusband scored an equalizer to hold Indonesia to a 2-2 draw. 

A win against Thailand would have secured entry into the Suzuki Cup semifinals. 

The Azkals finish the tournament with two draws, one loss, and two points, while Thailand sweeps the group stage with three wins and nine points. Indonesia finishes with one win, one draw, and one loss for four points. 

The Azkals' group stage exit snaps a streak of three-straight semifinals appearances in the Suzuki Cup. 

While this is indeed a painful exit for the Azkals, the future is far from bleak for the Pinoy national team. With a handful of experienced veterans and a pool of talented youngsters, we can expect the Philippine Football Federation and the Azkals to go back to the drawing board and return stronger. 

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