Football: Young Azkals bow out of AFF U-23 with win over Brunei

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2022 12:14 PM

The Philippine men's under-23 national team. PFF photo.
The Philippine men's under-23 national team. PFF photo.

The Philippine men's under-23 national team exited the 2022 AFF U-23 Championship on a high note, claiming a 2-1 triumph against Brunei on Sunday night at the Prince Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Second-half goals from Dennis Chung and Sandro Reyes propelled the Young Azkals to victory, although they were unable to advance to the knockout phase of the tournament.

The Philippines finished in third place in Group A with one win, one loss, and one draw for four points.

Timor Leste topped the group on seven points with two wins and one draw, having beaten hosts Cambodia, 1-0, also on Sunday night. Cambodia finished second in the group with six points on two wins and a loss, but also failed to advance to the semifinals.

"At least we finished on a high, we finished with a win, so I'm pleased about that," said Philippines coach Stewart Hall after the match.

Hall rued their many missed chances, including poor execution off corner kicks in the early goings of the match. Despite dominating possession, the Philippines could not find the back of the net and Brunei held them to a goalless draw at the half.

The breakthrough came in the 48th minute courtesy of Chung, as the Philippines finally converted off a corner kick. Ten minutes later, Reyes doubled the lead, his left-footed strike fizzing past the goal-keeper into the lower right corner.

But the Filipinos also gave up a goal to Brunei's Hakeme Yazid in the 59th minute, much to Hall's dismay.

"Instead of going on and winning by three or four, which we should with the possession that we had, we let them come back into the game with a silly breakaway goal," he noted. "But credit to them because they kept working."

The Philippines opened their campaign with a 2-2 draw with Timor Leste, then lost in a heartbreaker to Cambodia, 1-0, as they gave up a goal to Sin Sovanmakara nine minutes from time.

Despite failing to advance to the knockout stages, Hall still took plenty of positives from their participation, especially as it is leading up to the Southeast Asian Games in May.

"The players who are here have worked really, really hard in training, and we've been really pleased with them. They've been a pleasure to work with and it's been a great learning experience for everybody," he said.