The Philippine Men's Under-23 National Team fought gallantly but absorbed a 3-0 setback to South Korea in their first game of the 2022 AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers, Monday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
It was nil-nil at the break with the U-23 Azkals managing to fend off the defending Asian Cup champions, despite South Korea dominating possession and keeping the pressure on the Philippines' defense.
The breakthrough for South Koree came in the 52nd minute off a header by Lee Kyu-hyuk. Ko Jaehyeon doubled their advantage 20 minutes later, firing home from close range, before substitute Park Jeong-in completed the scoring in the 89th minute against the flagging Philippine defense.
The U-23 Azkals are at the bottom of Group H, while South Korea take full points to go top. Host nation Singapore and Timor Leste play in the same venue at 8 p.m.
The Philippines return to action against Singapore on October 28.
The 11 group winners in the qualifiers will secure their spots in the 2022 Asian Cup, as well as the four best second-placed teams.
Already qualified to the continental tournament is host nation Uzbekistan.