Azkals open SEA Games football with draw vs Cambodia

Santino Honasan, ABS-CBN Sports

Posted at Nov 25 2019 10:21 PM | Updated as of Nov 26 2019 09:41 AM

Jerome Marzan of the Philippines controls the ball as he is challenged by Cambodia’s Chea Vesly during their Group A football match at the 30th SEA Games at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila on Monday night. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—A last-minute goal from Dennis Chung helped the Philippine under-22 men's football team get a 1-1 draw against Cambodia in their 2019 Southeast Asian Games opener Monday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila. 

The Pinoy side, bannered by senior Azkals standouts Stephan Schrock and Amani Aguinaldo, got off to a slow start, as the Cambodians controlled possession in the early moments of the match. 

The Pinoys began to put the pressure on Cambodia late in the first half, with a multitude of opportunities, but ultimately could not finish. 

It was Cambodia instead, which found the back of the net in the 41st minute, as striker Keo Sokpheng blitzed through the Azkals defense before shaking off defender Aguinaldo and sending the ball past keeper Anthony Pinthus for the go-ahead goal. 

Cambodian keeper Keo Soksela came up with a pair of excellent saves in the dying seconds of the first half to preserve the lead. 

Finishing woes, as well as the steady hands of Keo Soksela, continued to haunt the Pinoys in the second frame, as they just couldn't get their opportunities to drop. It wasn't until the first minute of injury time that the Philippines finally found the back of the net, courtesy of substitute Chung, who finished just inside the box for the equalizer. 

"I'm so grateful. I'm so happy to score my first goal and in my debut, only played 5 minutes but it's enough," the 18-year-old Filipino-Chinese told ABS-CBN News.

"I'm always thinking my way because I'm not giving a s*** about everything. I'm just playing my game."

At the helm of U22 squad, skipper Stephan Schrock said he is aiming for a historical run.

"Football is a team sports. I'm very thankful and grateful that the coaching staff and the management [are] giving me so much responsibility. With that great responsibility you have to work hard and leading by example, I hope I did tonight," he said.

"And I will do it in the next 2 games with aim for the semifinal for a historical run and with the lucky draw or with the well-deserved draw in the last minute I think we can build up."

With the draw, Azkals earned their first points of the 2019 SEA Games men's football tournament. 

The U-22 Azkals will have just one day to rest before they try to back get their first win when they take on Myanmar on Wednesday, November 27, also at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. Kickoff will be at 4 p.m.

—With a report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News

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2019 SEA Games