Suzuki Cup: War Elephants trample Azkals

Icko de Guzman
Thailand dominated ball possession for most of the game but the Azkals had a chance toward the end

OUT OF TIME. The Azkals scored late but ended up with no time left to equalize against Thailand. Paul Mulders (R) scored the only goal for the Philiipines. Photo by Anton Sheker / www.goal.ph

BANGKOK, Thailand – The Philippines were denied a share of points as Thailand capitalized on a quickfire double late in the first half to snatch a 2-1 victory in their AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 Group A opener in Bangkok on Saturday, November 24.

The Azkals saw the return of Phil and James Younghusband in the starting lineup after coming off from the bench against Singapore, with Denis Wolf (ankle) and Demit Omphroy (flu) having to sit out the opening match due to injury.

Despite the return of the brothers, Thailand dominated the possession throughout the first half as Teerasil Dangda and Datsakorn Thonglao took turns in leading the attack.

This in turn saw the Philippines being stuck in their own half, with defenders Rob Gier and Juani Guirado keeping the score at bay with their last ditch tackles.

But Thailand turned up the notch late in the first half as they broke the deadlock in the 38th minute, when Jakkapan Pornsai received a low cross by defender Theerathon Bunmatha from the right flank and put the ball past Ed Sacapaño.

The War Elephants quickly made it 2-0 before halftime. Anucha Kitpongsri received a pass that beat the offside trap and dribbled around the keeper before slotting home the second of the match with his left foot in the 41st minute.

Chieffy, James out

Following the quickfire double Coach Michael Weiss replaced skipper Chieffy Caligdong with Jeffrey Christiaens in the 42nd minute, and then replaced after the halftime break Phil Younghusband with Marwin Angeles, allowing Mulders to go up front along with Guirado.

Thailand continued to press on for a third goal but saw all their chanced denied until finally the Azkals were able to string a few passes together and be rewarded in the 77th minute to set up a frantic last ten minutes.

Substitute Patrick Reichelt — who had replaced James Younghusband in the 61st minute — set up the goal for the Azkals.

Reichelt had an excellent run on the right flank and latched onto a cross that found Mulders wide open inside the penalty area, blasting home his shot past Kawin Thamsatchanan to give the Philippines the much needed lifeline heading into the dying minutes.

Red card for Weiss

However, the joy of Mulders’ goal quickly turned to horror as Coach Michael Weiss was sent off in the 81st minute for throwing the ball towards at Anucha Kitpongsri, who was lying on the pitch taking his time to recover from an apparent injury.

The referee had no choice but to eject the visibly upset German.

Despite losing their coach, the Azkals continued to press on for the late equalizer but Thailand managed to waste enough time with various delaying tactics and the score stayed 2-1.

Weiss praised the performance of the in the second half.

“All three players played [well]” but downplayed the chance of any of them getting a starting nod in the match against Vietnam.

In the earlier match, Myanmar and Vietnam shared the spoils as they settled for a 1-1 draw.

With the sending off in the second half however, the Azkals coach may miss Tuesday’s match against Vietnam, but remained positive of his side’s chances.

“We’ll make the best out of it,” said Weiss. – Rappler.com

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