The Philippines lost to Cambodia, 0-1, to end its Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship 2018 Qualifiers campaign winless on Sunday night at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Already out of the running after a loss in the previous game, the men’s Under-22 national team conceded the lone goal in the second half en route to finishing last in Group J of the qualifying stage with a 0-0-3 win-draw-loss record.
But national head coach Marlon Maro insisted to remain optimistic as the squad brace for the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games ahead.
“What is important is that we were able to play as a team. Now we have to go back home and prepare for the SEA Games and improve on our weaknesses,” said Maro.
Qualifier host Cambodia finished third with four points on a 1-1-1 card.
Filipino forward Javier Gayoso almost scored in the 55th minute as the collegiate standout attacked from the left flank only to be denied by Cambodian goalkeeper Um Sereirath.
Sok Samnang netted the lone goal off a rebound in the 59th to hand the home side the victory, much to the delight of the majority of 17,282 people in attendance.
In the other group stage match, China scored twice late in the first half to stun reigning champion Japan, 2-1.
With the result, China topped the group with seven points on a 2-1-0 slate while Japan ended up on No. 2 with six markers with a 2-0-1 record, enough to secure a seat in the final tournament next year.