MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine under-21 Azkals bucked the absence of three stalwarts to score their first win in the fifth Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy (HBT) via a 3-1 triumph over Timor Leste Friday night in Brunei.
Kenshiro Daniels (35’), Jaime Cheng (48’) and Kennedy Uzoka (86’) struck as the U-21 Azkals, who played without Amani Aguinaldo, Daisuke Sato and OJ Porteria due to previous offenses, hiked their tally to four points.
Phl XI, which previously drew with Laos U-21, 2-2, and bowed to Thailand U-19, 0-2, is no longer in contention for the next round as the Thais and Myanmar have put a lock on the two semis berths for the group with nine points apiece.
Coach Jim Fraser expressed satisfaction with his young wards, who are being prepared for future Southeast Asian Games competitions.
“I think the tournament has been an achievement because we came here to mold a young team together and we’ve been able to do that. It’s been successful and we’ve learnt a lot,” Fraser was quoted as saying by the Brunei Times.
“The boys have good experience at an international level now and that’s not easy to get. They’ve played tough games and that’s what you want to do, so overall I’m happy with the development of the squad... It’s about development,” he added.
Daniels, a mainstay of the seniors team Azkals, knocked in a header as Phl took a 1-0 lead at the half. Three minutes after the restart, Daniels dished out a through ball into the box to set up Cheng for a shot that doubled their margin.
Timor Leste sliced it to one in the 59th after Marcos Guasmao fired it home off a miscue by Phl keeper Patrick Deyto.
Uzoka headed it to the net off Dominic Liam Del Rosario’s corner to restore a two-goal upperhand in the 86th.
“We had three of our best players out on cards. The boys that we put in stepped up and I think they did really well. Overall I’m happy but there are still things we need to work on obviously,” said Fraser.
“We’re a young team and we haven’t been together for a long time, so we’re getting better as the tournament goes on but unfortunately we lost the early points, so now we’re going to miss the semifinals,” he said.