Azkals give up two late goals, yield to Vietnamese
The Philippines gave fancied Vietnam all that it can handle before falling, 2-1, last Sunday night at the start of the AFF Under-22 Championship at National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Lacking in preparation but never in fighting spirit, the young Azkals looked primed for an upset when they took the lead through University of the Philippines star Jeremiah Borlongan, who rifled home a free kick six minutes into the second half.
But two late quick-fire goals courtesy of substitutes Tran Danh Trung and Le Minh Binh left coach Anto Gonzales’ charges shell-shocked as they opened their Group A campaign with a defeat.
Minh Binh’s flick past Filipino goalkeeper Michael Asong with four minutes remaining turned out to be the match winner for the Vietnamese side that is looking to carry the momentum of its senior team’s success in the AFF Suzuki Cup last year and the AFC Asian Cup last month.
“The boys fought hard,” said Gonzales.” But we collapsed toward the end. This is the result of just two weeks of training. I don’t blame the players. They did well under the circumstances.”
The Filipinos will face Thailand on Tuesday, before wrapping up their group assignments on Thursday against Timor Leste. Only the top two teams from the group will advance to the semifinals of the tournament also serving as a warmup for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
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