The Azkals have reached the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup after a 0-0 draw against Indonesia in Jakarta.
The result was particularly sweet, as the last time the Philippine national team met Indonesia at the same venue eight years ago, a loss saw them crash out of the Southeast Asian tournament.
Speaking after the game yesterday (Sunday, November 26), the team’s head coach, ex-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, said: “It’s not easy to play here, but I think we did okay. We were not brilliant but a draw is okay.
“Of course, we wanted to win the game, but I think Thailand had too many goals difference ahead of us. Well, we’re in the semi-finals. We haven’t lost one game so we should be happy.”
The result leaves the Azkals with eight points in the qualifying stages, and secures 2nd place in Group B. Thailand — who drew 1-1 against the Philippines on Wednesday — took the top spot with a 3-0 home win over Singapore to win the group with 10 points. The Azkals beat the island nation 1-0 in their opening game of the tournament earlier this month.
Both games were played simultaneously, and the Thais’ convincing result ended any doubts over the Azkal’s progress to the next stage of the tournament.
The two teams opened the match assertively, putting themselves in solid scoring opportunities in the opening half but could not complete them.
Sadly for the Azkals they would lose captain Phil Younghusband in the first half after he clashed heads with an Indonesian player. He was taken off the field for a hospital check up.
In the second half, a back-and-forth between the two teams continued, with neither side finding the back of the net.
Looking forward to the rest of the tournament, Eriksson said: “Probably we have to play better than we did today, but I’m quite sure we can do that. Now we have a week until the next game and that’s good because those four games came every three, four days. So having one week rest is good for us.”
The Philippines will host Vietnam in the first leg of the semi-finals on Sunday, December 2, at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
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