PH Azkals fall to Cambodia to open AFF Cup campaign
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Azkals absorbed their first defeat at the hands of Cambodia in 20 years after falling 3-2 to begin their Asean Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup campaign off on a wrong foot on Tuesday in Phnom Penh.
A brace from Kenshiro Daniels allowed the Azkals to come back from two goals down to draw level in the second half, only for Reung Bunheig to produce the eventual winner in the 59th minute of their Group A match held at Morodok Techo National Stadium.
Chances to equalize, including a pair from Stephan Schrock and Jarvey Gayoso during a tense final moments went futile and the Filipino booters lost for the first time to the Angkor Warriors since 2002.
Cambodia prevailed, 1-0, on Dec. 21, 2002 during the group stage of the same tournament then called the Tiger Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia, before the Philippines produced four wins and two draws throughout friendlies and AFF competitions.
New coach Josef Ferre, whose hiring was announced less than two weeks before the start of the competition, and the Azkals return to action on Friday when they host Brunei at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Ferre’s side fell behind inside the first 20 minutes as Cambodia, which tested the Azkals goalkeeper Kevin Hansen and the backline, took a 2-0 lead on goals from Bunheing and Om Chanpolin.
The Azkals pulled one back before halftime as Daniels, who had just one international goal prior to the match, scored a rebound in the 41st after a long attempt by Arnel Amita was stopped by Cambodia keeper Keo Soksela.
Daniels came through again in the 55th when he capitalized on a long ball from veteran defender Amani Aguinaldo and beat two Cambodian players and Soksela to level the score at 2-2.
But the excitement over that tying goal was shortlived as Bunheing glanced a header that beat a diving Hansen inside the box and the Angkor Warriors regained the advantage before the hour mark.