By Kevin Sox
It was an unfortunate Friday for Philippine football as the men’s seniors national team (Azkals) and the U22 selection faltered in separate matches.
The U22 selection first lost to host squad Singapore, 3-nil in the opener of the four-nation Merlion Cup 2019 tournament at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Amiruldin Asraf pounced on a counter attack chance for the Singaporeans to give them the opening goal in the 26th minute.
The Philippines was unable to recover, and two more conversions within a five-minute span from Irfan Fandi on a header in the 62nd minute and Ikhsan Fandi in the 67th gave Singapore the decisive advantage.
The Philippines, led by UAAP champion Jayvee Gayoso, will settle for the bronze medal match vs Indonesia, who also lost to Thailand, 2-1.
Later in the night, the Azkals dropped a close 2-nil defeat to Asian powerhouse China in Guangzhou.
The friendly was part of the nationals’ preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
Mikhael Falkesgaard, Mike Ott, Alvaro Silva, Stephan Schrock, Curt Dizon, Luke Woodland, Javier Patino, Daisuke Sato, Stephen Palla, Kevin Ingreso, and Patrick Reichelt started for the Azkals in the match.
China pressed early, getting three shots in just nine minutes, before Wu Xi finally broke resistance in the 17th minute mark to give the home side a 1-nil lead.
Mike Ott had his chances in the first half but could not capitalize, as China added another goal in the second half to double their lead.
To make matters worse, Sato was sent out of the field in the 69th minute following a straight red card.
It was a far more competitive result still for the Azkals, who last faced China in the AFC Asian Cup last January and lost 3-nil.