It was a goalless game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, but it wasn’t without action as Thailand escape Manila with a goalless draw. Thailand looked the better team early on, but the Azakls got a foothold into the game and improved until half-time.
Neither team fashioned a golden chance but Thailand were left short-handed as Adisak Kraisorn was sent off for apparently striking Amani Aguinaldo. The replay is inconclusive and either way Thailand will feel hard done by, but you can watch that below.
Down to two men and under heavy pressure for the last 20 minutes, the War Elephants defended stoutly and managed to escape Manila still level in this two legged Semi Final clash as the Philippines picked up its first ever clean sheet against Thailand.
The second leg will be held at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, and the result there will determine which team will reach the finals of the Suzuki Cup, Thailand for the 4th time in the last 5 editions of the tournament, or the Philippines for the first ever time?
It was a nervy start for the Azkals as defensive errors from Amani Aguinaldo, Rob Gier, Daisuke Sato, and Patrick Deyto put the team under pressure early in the first half. Giving away a free-kick on the edge of the area, Thailand curled just wide in an early scare for the Philippines as Thailand looked the better side in the early stages of the game.
Then a foul by Martin Steuble left Thai forward Kirati Keawsombut stretchered off and Adisak Kraisorn came on to replace him. The Philippines eventually began to settle down and get more of a foothold in the game, beginning to knock the ball around well, but Misagh Bahadoran’s first touch on the left wing couldn’t keep up with the pace of the movement. The pressure on Thailand’s defence now showed as Manny Ott broke free on the right wing, the ball rebounding off a Thai defender who wasn’t strong enough in the challenge, but Ott’s cross was too deep and the chance went, before Martin Steuble’s cross from the same position was headed out for a corner with no Azkal in the danger area.
And then a through ball from the Azkals was blocked by Tanaboon Keserat’s hand and he was deservedly booked. The free-kick, over 30 yards out, looked too far from goal but Phil Younghusband surprised more than just myself by curling at goal. Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thammasatchanan (who looks like a Thai version of the Hulk btw) dove to his right to save well.
And decent passing from the Azkals again showed their improvements under Head Coach Thomas Dooley, but it was Paul Mulders, in for Patrick Reichelt who isn’t yet 100% fit, whose touch let him down for the second time in the game and the chance came and went.
Goalless at the break, it was a positive start from the Azkals who were now in the ascendancy. Thailand is the much favoured team in this clash, and for the Suzuki Cup as whole, and almost went ahead as Peerapat Notchaiya shot just wide after good build up in probably their best chance of the game. The Azkals then probably had their best chance as Daisuke Sato won the ball back outside the Azkals’ area and played a quality through ball for Phil Younghusband to counter.
The Philippines’ top scorer ran past his man and was through on goal, but stumbled under the second challenge from behind and couldn’t get his shot off well, with some claiming a foul. Thailand again threatened next as Adisak played the ball in for Charyl Chappuis who drove across the face of goal, before Patrick Deyto dallied on the ball in goal and put the defence under pressure from the weak clearance.
A couple of minutes later, Patrick Reichelt came in for Paul Mulders, who was again ineffective in an Azkals shirt, and he provided more impetus up front. And Kenshiro Daniels replaced Simone Rota, a huge call as Thailand’s attacks heavily focussed on their left wing, at our right back, again mentioned in my scouting report. Immediately after coming on he played a good play forward to showcase his attacking potential, but on the counter was caught out of position, showing his defensive inexperience.
But the potential danger was negated as in the 68th minute Adisak Kraisorn was sent off. The replay isn’t so conclusive but check it out below and make up your own mind.
It looks like Amani instigates the whole thing and shoves Adisak, squaring up to him. As Amani puts his head towards Adisak, the Thai striker swings his right arm round to hit Amani, and the Filipino defender goes down.Whatever exactly happened, it gave the Azkals a clear advantage as they pushed forward for the remaining 25 minutes of the game, Phil Younghusband shooting at the goalkeeper and bundling his defender over in another chance, before a cross to the back post wasn’t quite accurate enough to feed Misagh Bahadoran.
Steuble shot at the goalkeeper before Suttinan Phuk-Hom pushed Reichelt over but no foul was given as the Azkals failed to break down the Thai defence enough to create a clear cut chance to grab the advantage ahead of the second leg in Thailand.
Home Court Advantage
After the game Phil Younghusband summed up the game well, saying “I think today we showed we can compete with teams like Thailand”. Particularly at home anyway. Rizal Memorial Stadium was almost full for the game, something that surprised me and others given tickets only went on sale earlier this week. The crowd were loud and boisterous throughout the game and a lot of credit must be given to them and the Azkals management for that. A nice sidenote that finally PFF lifted the restrictions on big flags for the Philippines and again the big flag was flown at RMS.
Home advantage counts for a lot in football and though before the game many people would have been happy with a draw and stopping Thailand grabbing an away goal, but the way it worked out Thailand will be happier with this result. Overall the game was a very close match until the red card. Looking at the match facts Thailand ended with more shots than the Philippines and created the better chances too, most likely, but a man down for the last 25 minutes Thailand truly have escaped the Rizal Memorial Stadium with a draw.
And in the second leg, Thailand will also be missing forwards Adisak and potentially Kirati (the former will be suspended for his red card while the latter’s injury will be closely watched). Before the game many fans would’ve taken that result against the team rated at the top of Southeast Asia. But the way it worked out it’s Thailand who are escaping this game with a draw – the first time the Philippines hasn’t been defeated by Thailand in a game since their only win over Thailand in 1971.
If you want to support grassroots football in the Philippines, for kids who truly deserve an opportunity, you can support Payatas Football Club by donating here so the team can get it’s own futsal court: https://www.justgiving.com/FairplayForAllFoundation/
Payatas FC is run by the Fairplay for All Foundation. And the need is great in Payatas as the team have only been allowed to train once in the last six weeks on the local barangay court. Despite this the potential is massive, with players from Payatas FC previously part of the National youth team and Team Philippines in Street Child World Cup. To see more about Payatas check out the FIFA Futbol Mundial: