RP booters nail Suzuki stint with draw
VIENTIANE, Laos—Mission accomplished.
The Philippines nailed one of the two qualifying slots to the Suzuki Cup Asean Football Championship, after holding Cambodia to a scoreless draw last night at the National Stadium.
The Filipinos failed to impose themselves on attack, but survived with their resolute defense anchored by central defenders Aly Borromeo, Rob Gier and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
“It’s very rewarding that the program we started has achieved its target,” said team manager Dan Palami.
“We know it was going to be hard, but the players worked very hard to get to this level.”
The Filipinos missed out on a spot in the main tournament two years ago, after losing via goal difference to Cambodia.
The RP booters finished with five points, after a 5-0 win over Timor Leste and back-to-back draws to Laos and Cambodia.
Cambodia’s qualification hopes now rest on the result of the Laos-Timor Leste match, which was being played as of presstime.
Ian Araneta, Phil Younghusband and Borromeo all came close to breaking the deadlock in the second half.
Araneta sent his close-range effort straight to Cambodian keeper, Ouc Mic, in the 68th minute; Younghusband had his right-footed shot in injury time well-saved, and Borromeo bungled a free header off James Younghusband’s corner.
But Cambodia looked the more dangerous side, with its fluid play at the flanks.
Etheridge, who plays club football for English Premiere League side Fulham, was at his best, quashing wave after wave of attacks with timely saves.
Borromeo also proved instrumental, combining with Gier to win headers and making timely tackles.