Vientiane: Hosts Laos made an impressive start to Group G of the AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers on Saturday but their 6-1 win over the Philippines couldn’t match Timor-Leste’s 8-0 hammering of the Northern Mariana Islands in the opening fixture of the campaign.
Jelito Corte-Real scored the first Group G goal in the qualifying competition for next year’s youth finals in India and the defender’s strike on the stroke of half-time was all that separated Timor Leste and the Northern Mariana Islands going into the interval.
The Timorese turned up the heat in the second period, scoring seven times without reply to run out convincing winners, with Danilson Conceicao Araujo doubling the advantage four minutes after the restart before goals from Armindo Vieira (51st), skipper Joao Da Silva Freitas (66th) and Dom Lucas (70th) had the ASEAN side 5-0 up with 20 minutes left to play.
Just two minutes later it was six courtesy of Yafet Belima Barros, and after fellow substitute Orcelio Nobelito Moises added his name to the scoresheet in the 81st minute, Da Silva Freitas notched his second and Timor-Leste’s eighth with two minutes left on the clock.
In the later fixture, Laos also recorded a big win but they fell short of the tally set by the Timorese, with their 6-1 triumph seeing the Group G hosts end Matchday 1 second in the table on goal difference.
Midfielder Nilanh Inthapanya struck in the 18th and 34th minutes to give Laos a 2-0 lead at the interval, which they extended just two minutes after the restart through Bounphachan Bounkong.
Saya Monlangsy made it 4-0 in the 56th minute before second-half substitute Nilan - who came on in the 48th minute for Thatsaphone Saysouk - added number five with quarter-of-an-hour left to play.
Things went from bad to worse for the Philippines in the 79th minute when defender Marcelo Ivan Ouano was sent off for a second bookable offence but despite their numerical disadvantage it was they who got the next goal, with skipper Fidel Victor Tacardon scoring his side’s consolation.
However, the five-goal difference was restored soon after when Nilan scored his second and Laos’ sixth one minute into second-half stoppage time.
The action resumes on Monday when Malaysia make their first Group G appearance against the Northern Mariana Islands, while the Philippines will be desperate to avoid a second defeat when they take on early pacesetters Timor Leste.
The ten other group winners and four best second-placed teams will join DPR Korea and India in next year’s finals, with the tournament hosts receiving an automatic qualification.
Should India finish top of their qualifying group or among the four best second-placed teams, the fifth best second-placed nation will qualify for the final competition.
With Group H concluded and Group G already underway, the nine other remaining groups all kick off on September 16.