Monday, March 25, 2013

PHL sets new mark with 8-0 win


THE Philippines took control of Group E after an epic match that had everything--a deluge of goals, rain, two stoppages and a sending off--against Cambodia in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifiers at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Riding on Stephen Schrock's sleek feet and ball control, a Phil Younghusband at his peak form and a promising Javier Patino on his debut, the Philippines notched its best win in the modern era, routing a hapless Cambodia squad, 8-0, to top Group E on goal difference.

Both the Philippines and Turkmenistan have six points, thanks to an automatic 3-0 after Brunei’s withdrawal but the Azkals have the lead with 11 goals.  Turkmenistan, which will face the Philippines next, beat Cambodia, 7-0, last Friday.


The previous record was a 7-0 win--with Younghusband getting his first hat trick--against Timor Leste in the then AFF Championship qualifiers in Bacolod on Nov. 14, 2006.

Right at the opening whistle, it was clear the Philippines had all the advantages and Cambodia, which fielded its U23 side, spent most of the match backpedaling.  The final stats said it all as the Philippines had 24 shots--15 on target--while Cambodia had three, getting a single save from a bored Roland Muller who at one point, got to the half court line in an effort to get involved with the play.

After a couple of misses from Schrock and Younghusband, the Philippines got its first goal in the 25th, with the Loyola striker redirecting Carli de Murga's cross in front of goal.

A few minutes later, he added another with a lovely curl just from outside the box--almost at the same spot where David Beckham bent it against Ed Sacapano in 2012. In the 34th, Younghusband completed his hat trick, this time off a header.

"It was easy for me--all I had to do was to get on the end of the ball. The quality of my teammates, the quality they gave me, they made it so easy for me," Younghusband told ABS CBN.  

Then in the 45th, it was Patino's turn.

Schrock danced away from his defender at left flank and found Phil, who quickly turned and connected with Patino for his easy tap in.

And as the Azkals pressed on for a fifth goal, the lights at Rizal went out, resulting to an almost 15-minute delay.

A minute into the second half, it was Schrock's turn and his shot got deflected to Cambodia's own net. Eleven minutes later, there was no need for a deflection as Patino, whose mother is from Dumanjug, got past three defenders for his second goal at point-blank range.

As the Philippines searched for a seventh goal, puddles began to form from the heavy downpour and the the fourth official called on the referee to halt the match.

After an hour-long break, the Philippines got back to business but found itself shorthanded after Paul Mulders earned a red card for a tantrum.  Younghusband got his fourth goal in the 86th, again off a Shrock cross and defender Carli de Murga joined in the scoring fray, jumping over everybody to bang in a rebound at point blank range.

The healthy win, which puts the Philippines at six points and a goal difference of 11, means only a disaster can bar the country from making it to the final stage in Maldives next year.

The winners in the five groups advance to the final stage, along with the top two second-best teams, which is Bangladesh (six points, five goals) and India (six points, four goals).  

Even a 6-0 loss for the Philippines in Tuesday's match will see them advance, while Turkmenistan can also advance even if it loses, 5-0.

But after setting that record win, a loss is the last thing the team has in mind.


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