Younghusband rues Azkals’ Suzuki Cup exit

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Philippine National Football Team captain Phil Younghusband lamented about their missed chances during their 1-0 loss against Thailand in the group stage of 2016 Suzuki Cup at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan last Friday.

“Obviously, not qualifying for the semifinal is just a disappointment because we had such high expectations because we such good players and we know their quality,” he said in an interview after the match.

Filipino-British Phil Younghusband (No. 10) tackles Prakit Deeprom of Thailand (No. 35) during group stage of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup on Friday at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue Bulacan. RENE H. DILAN

Filipino-British Phil Younghusband (No. 10) tackles Prakit Deeprom of Thailand (No. 35) during group stage of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup on Friday at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue Bulacan. RENE H. DILAN

The Azkals failed to capitalize on their home pitch advantage in their three preliminary round matches. They bowed out of contention and won’t be seeing action in the semifinals for the first time after three consecutive Final Four stints (2010, 2012, 2014).

The Philippines was held into a disappointing scoreless stalemate against the lower-ranked Singapore before salvaging a 2-2 draw against the tough Indonesians.

With just two draws in their card, the Filipinos went full throttle against the Thais in their final game in their group but were unable to finish despite a multitude of chances.

Thailand crushed the chances of the Azkals of qualifying to the knockout phase through the lone strike of Sarawut Masuk with just nine minutes left in regulation.

“The thought of that now is just disappointing. The progression of football has been there since 2010 but this year we did not get in,” Younghusband said about their exit in the biennial regional tournament.

This will be the first time that the Azkals will be missing out the semifinal round of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Championships in the last four editions of the tilt.

“With the circumstances and situation of Philippine football at the moment, its not always easy and there are challenges to get over. But it’s really just disappointing to know that we are not going to be in the semifinals,” he added.

Younghusband stressed that they were put in a difficult situation going into the game, as they needed to clinch a win against their toughest opponent in order to move on to the next round.

“It’s always going to be difficult to rely on the last game and relying on other results to qualify. But I though we did okay, we just needed that goal. We were just unlucky to hit the post and fail on our other chances.”

The veteran striker explained that he is proud of the performance of their side despite failing to notch a favorable result at the end of the match.

“I feel that we did okay. It’s always going to be tough against Thailand even with a lot of their first 11 players being rested. They still have strong squad,” he held.

He commended the effort of young defender Marco Casam­bre, who made his debut in the central defense of the Azkals during the game.

“I thought he did really well for a 17-year-old against the speed of the Thais. He did very well. He can be proud of his performance. He has a bright future,” he concluded.

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