By Olmin Leyba
MANILA, Philippines - Drawing confidence from its solid showing in a narrow 0-1 opening-day setback to touted host Singapore, the Philippine under-23 football team eyes a victory against Cambodia tonight in the 28th Southeast Asian Games at Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
U-23 Azkals coach Marlon Maro said they might not have gotten the result they targeted in the opener against the Young Lions but the performance is something they can build on in the 8:30 p.m. Group A match against Cambodia.
“The scoreline did not reflect the manner with which both teams played but I’m glad that we had a great first game which we can carry to the next,” Maro said in the post-match press conference Monday night.
Ranged against one of the title favorites, the U-23 stood their ground but conceded a goal on a set piece just before intermission, which turned out to be enough to win it for the Young Lions.
“We were already playing against the hosts and the first match of the competition is always difficult. The hosts teams were very enthusiastic,” said Maro.
“I know that we could keep ball possession and passed it around – that is what we have been training for. It was just too bad that we could not score when we had the chance,” he added.
The Dumaguete-born mentor said he would be tinkering with his starting unit in the Cambodia fixture.
“We also need to tighten our back row and control ball possession and more forward with purpose,” he said.
The Filipinos are also gunning for revenge against the Cambodians, who dealt them a 1-2 defeat in the AFC U-23 qualifiers last March.