VIENTIANE (26 Oct 2010) – The Philippines today secured their place in the final rounds of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 in December after sharing points with Cambodia in their last qualifying match at the National Sports Complex Stadium here.
Despite the draw, the Filipinos finished ahead of Cambodia on better goal difference, thus confirming their berth in the finals. Philippines and Cambodia have five points each after today’s 0-0 draw.
At this stage, Philippines top the standings but the outcome of the Laos-Timor Leste game later will alter the final positions.
Laos have two points and need to defeat Timor Leste by at least three goals to ensure they finish second in the standings and make the final cut. If they win by a margin of five goals or more, Laos will finish as the champions here with the Philippines ending second.
Cambodia are in with a long shot.
They have to pray that Laos are not able to score enough goals to qualify. While Cambodia were hoping for the best, the Philippines were celebrating in their dressing room and would quickly forgotten the seven bookings they received today.
“They threw everything they had even the kitchen sink,” quipped Simon McMenemy, the chief coach of the Philippines after the match.
“We showed in this qualifying competition that we will not go down without a fight and that is the quality which we will bring to the final round.”
There was only one option left to both teams, win to ensure a place in the AFF Suzuki Cup final rounds in December. And so it was hardly surprising that both sides were aggressively pushing hard to score.
Cambodia’s bench dropped in despair when Sun Sophana’s freekick was tipped over by Neil Etheridge.
It was disappointment again when Keo Sokngon’s shot from the left edge of the box hit the post. Two minutes later, it was the turn of the Philippines bench to despair when Philip Younghusband’s shot was cleared away by a defender.
Cambodia simply could not believe their luck when in the 34th minute, a brilliant shot from Sun Sophana hit the underside of the crossbar and was quickly shoved out by the keeper. San Narith pounced on the rebound but Neil managed to grab it.
Neil had in fact been at the centre of attention as he had been spot on throughout the first half to clear away all the crosses arriving into the box.
The second half saw loads of action and aggression on the pitch as both sides desperately tried to break the duck. The Filipino strikers Ian Araneta and Philip Younghusband, along with his brother James, were constantly harassing the Cambodian defence but were simply unable to make it through.
In the dying minutes,Philip could have sealed it but his shot found the bar. But the draw proved to be good enough for the Philippines to qualify for the final round for the second time since 2006.
“We played well today even though we did not win,” said Lee Tae Hon, the chief coach of Cambodia.
“It is disappointing not to qualify but we will develop these players for the next competition.”
Philippines: Neil Etheridge (GK), Robert Gier, Anton Del Rosario, Roel Gener, James Younghusband, Manuel Gelito Ott, Philip Younghusband, Alexander Borromeo (cpt), Ian Araneta (Yanti 87th), David Basa (emilio, 51st), Ray Jonsson
Subs: Eduard Sacapano (GK), Yanti Armentia Barsales, Emelio Caligdong, Mark Ferrer, Nestorio Margase, Joebel Bermejo
Suspended:Jason De Jong
Coach: Simon Alexander McMenemy
Yellow: Anton (28th), David (33rd), Manuel (66th), Ian (78th), Ray (82nd), Neil (83rd), Alexander (85th)
Cambodia: Ouk Mic (GK, cpt), Lay Raksmey, Tieng Tiny, Sok Rithy, Khim Borey (Phourng 83rd), San Narith, Kouch Sokumpheak, Khoun Laboravy (Nuth 75th), Keo Sokngon (Tum Saray 64th), Sun Sophana, Pheak Rady
Subs: Peng Bunchay (GK), Sok Rithy, Tum Saray, Phourng Soksana, Eang Piseth, Nuth Sinoun, Pheak Rady
Coach: Lee Tae Hon
Yellow: Khim (34th), Sun Sophana (53rd)