Azkals in danger of early exit after 4-0 loss to Thais in AFF Cup
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Azkals’ hopes of a semifinal berth in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Mitsubishi Electric Cup dimmed on Monday after being handed a 4-0 defeat by defending champion Thailand at the Thammasat Stadium in Pathum Thani.
Hardly a threat since the opening whistle, the Azkals couldn’t prevent a brace by legendary striker Teerasil Dangda plus a pair of second half goals from Adisak Kraisorn and Suphanan Bureerat in a post-Christmas night to forget.
It was the second defeat in three matches for coach Josep Ferre’s side, which dropped to fourth place in Group A with still three points heading into its final group match on Jan. 2 against last year’s runner-up Indonesia.
Thailand climbed to six points to equal Indonesia, which hours earlier produced a 7-0 thumping of Brunei in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The two teams, which met in the two-legged Final of last year’s pandemic-delayed 2020 edition, will meet on Thursday.
The result of the match will determine if the Azkals still have a mathematical chance at sneaking a semis berth. But the way the situation is, the odds seem impossible.
It took three minutes for the Azkals to fall behind as Teerasil, who recently became the all-time top goalscorer of Southeast Asia’s premier football competition, produced a header off a free kick from Theerathon Bunmathan.
The Azkals had no shot attempt through the first 45 minutes as they were forced to play defensive against an attacking War Elephants. Goalkeeper Julian Schwarzer, starting for the second straight time, made solid efforts to keep the scoreline intact.
But the Azkals eventually conceded a second as referee Yudao Yamamoto signaled for the spot after a poor diving challenge from veteran defender Amani Aguinaldo, allowing Teerasil to convert the penalty in the 41st.
Teerasil set up Thailand’s third goal in the 57th when he made a pass to an on-rushing Adisak while Suphanan fired from close range six minutes later to extend the Azkals’ deficit.
Thailand could have had more goals until the final whistle but Schwarzer, perhaps the lone bright spot, made solid efforts to prevent several attempts.