MANILA, Philippines – Phil Younghusband may have been happy to make his 106th international appearance for the Philippines, but he hopes to play a bigger role in the Azkals’ debut stint in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
“Obviously, it was nice to get on the field so I’m happy to have made an appearance in the Asian Cup in the country’s first appearance. It’s disappointing to have not had played a bigger role but there’s still games to go so hopefully I’ll get more game time then,” said the Azkals captain.
The 31-year-old striker only came onto the pitch for midfielder John Patrick Strauss in the 89th minute of the game with 3 minutes of injury time to go against South Korea.
It was surprising for fans to see the Azkals mainstay benched for the majority of the game, but it was all part of Philippine head coach Sven-Göran Eriksson’s defensive game plan against the Asian powerhouse.
“Well you know when you start the game and you decide how you want to play and we knew that all coaches that if we go out and play a very offensive lineup, they will kill us with counterattacks,” explained Eriksson.
“So we cannot give them that possibility because I thought that’s our chance to do something positive [instead].”
Even if Javier Patiño was left alone in the attacking third of the Azkals’ 5-4-1 formation, the Philippine men’s football still managed to create chances against South Korea and surprisingly conceded only one goal throughout the match. (WATCH: Azkals put up against ‘one of the best teams’ in Asian Cup)
“It was a respectable result against one of the favorites,” said Younghusband, who is the country’s leading scorer with 52 international goals.
“We kept it 0-0 for a long time and the longer we kept it 0-0, the more confidence it gave the boys. I think every player had to work in this team. If you lose concentration or sleep, South Korea will take advantage because they are a very good team.”
As the Azkals face China who is ranked No. 76 in the world on Friday, January 11, it is exciting to see what surprises Eriksson and the team will have in store for the match. – Rappler.com