Following loss to Cambodia, Young Azkals are on the brink of elimination

ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 04, 2015 02:45 PM
U23 Azkals are on the brink of elimination
(Photo: Timothy Tan/SINGSOC via

SINGAPORE – Cambodia reasserted its mastery over the Philipppines, 3-1, on Wednesday night, pushing the Filipino booters to the brink of elimination in the 28th Southeast Asian Games football championships at the Jalan Besar Stadium here.

The Cambodians, who nipped the Nationals, 2-1, in the AFC Under-23 qualifiers in Thailand last March, struck hard in the first half, erecting a 2-0 lead at the break through goals by Prak Many Udom and Keo Sokpheng in the 30th and 41st minutes, respectively.

Undeterred, the Nationals tried to rally eight minutes into the second half and cut the deficit to 1-2 on striker Paolo Salenga’s shot from point blank range through an assist by Filipino-Nigerian Kennedy Uzoka.

But Cham Vanathaka sealed his opponents’ doom in the 81st minute, slipping past his opponent’s backline to score from the left flank through the legs of Filipino goalkeeper Florencio Baedelic Jr. as Cambodia posted its first win in Group A.

It was the second straight loss for the charges of head coach Marlon Maro, who now must win over Myanmar and Indonesia, respectively, to remain in contention in the four-team group.

Compounding the Filipinos’ miseries was the ejection of Arnel Amita, who got booked for his second yellow card with an unnecessary foul in the 92nd minute of injury time, meriting a one-game suspension and will have to sit out the match against the Burmese on June 7.

“We played a very poor first half and a very good second half. We have to play strong for 90 minutes,” Maro said. “If we had finished things off with the chances that we had, we could have at least one point (with a draw) tonight.”

Despite the win, South Korean Lee Tae-Hoon, Cambodia’s head coach, was dissatisfied, saying: “The result was okay, the performance not so good.”

Maro had his boys take a break yesterday morning before resuming with light training in the afternoon.

He, however, refused to give up hope, noting that should Singapore, which beat the Philippines, 1-0, last Monday, lose to Myanmar last night then the possibility for a triple tie for second could occur.

“But we must win our last two matches against Myanmar and Indonesia or we go home early,” the coach said.

Maro said he may have to make changes to shore up his back row and could tap defender Mark Anthony Besana for Sunday’s match.

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