WHILE not taking anything away from Thailand, the Philippine men’s football team rued the “dubious” officiating in their 3-0 loss to the host team in the second leg of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.
The Azkals felt there were questionable calls and non-calls that went in favor of the Thais all throughout the crucial match, none more evident than the linesman’s decision to award the Thais a corner that translated into the first goal barely six minutes into the match.
“It’s already very difficult to play against a very strong team and against those fans, but it’s more difficult when you play, I normally don’t like to say this, against the linesman,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said. “The first goal came from a corner that wasn’t really a corner.”
“The first goal put us under a hell of a lot of pressure,” skipper Rob Gier said. “But if you look at where that goal stemmed from, they won a corner, but there was never a corner.”
“I don’t like to make excuses and dig out referees and linesmen,” the veteran defender said. “But for me, that was a big decision he got wrong. It kept us on the back foot. From there, it was always going to be an uphill struggle.”
“But Thailand deserved the win,” Dooley said.
“There were some dubious calls from the referee, but you can’t really blame them,” Azkals manager Dan Palami said. “At the end of the day, we create our own chances — or lack of it — and that’s how it is.”
“Let’s go back to the drawing boards and ask yourself how you can get over this next barrier,” he added.
Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta echoed Palami’s sentiments.
“We expect that (officiating) in their home,” said Araneta, a former national team player. “It’s just a lesson that we just have to be focused on the game and not on the officiating.”