Azkals bow out of 2018 Suzuki Cup semis



MANILA, Philippines – No "Miracle in Hanoi" this time. 

The Philippine Azkals failed to advance to the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup title round after falling to Vietnam, 1-2, in the second leg of the semifinals on Thursday, December 6, at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam. 

The Vietnamese, who won 4-2 on aggregate, finally broke the so-called curse at their national stadium and scored a breakthrough tournament semis win in front of their home crowd. 

In the 82nd minute, Phan Van Duc got past Amani Aguinaldo who was able to send a cross to Nguyen Quang Hai who slotted the ball past Patrick Deyto and into the back of the net. 

Four minutes later, "Vietnam's Messi" Nguyen Cong Phuong put on a show as he created his own shot which he fired towards the near-post to quickly double the lead. 

James Younghusband – who came in the 69th minute for Carlie de Murga – provided more attacking spells for the Philippines and finally got a goal in the 88th minute as he converted a corner kick. 

It was Younghusband's 100th cap for the Philippine Azkals, who 8 years ago, pulled off the "Miracle in Hanoi" that saw them stun the Golden Stars, 2-0, to qualify in the semis for the first time.

The Vietnamese's cushion proved too much for the Filipinos as Vietnam's 2-1 away win over the Philippines in the first leg gave the eventual finalists a two-goal advantage on aggregate and the last title berth.

“It’s not easy for everyone and I think that everyone showed how hard they’ll fight for the team, fight for the Philippines,” said Azkals captain Phil Younghusband.

Vietnam will dispute the crown againt Malaysia, which dethroned Thailand in the other semifinal pairing.

This is the fourth time Philippines got booted out of the semifinals and missed a chance to clinch a historic Finals berth. 

The Philippines had more set piece chances but continued to struggle in the attacking third early in the game.

In the 71st minute, Stephan Schrock drew a crucial foul in the box that gifted the Azkals with a free kick in the dangerous area. Kevin Ingreso took the free kick, but the Azkals failed to convert within the 6-yard box. 

The Azkals lineup was down to 16 men as midfielder Manny Ott and keeper Michael Falkesgaard were reportedly injured. –



Beatrice Go

More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.