Phil Younghusband struck four times as the Philippines recorded its most lopsided victory in history, crushing Cambodia, 8-0, Sunday night to take the lead in Group E of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifying at the rain-soaked Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Younghusband grabbed his hat trick after 36 minutes before scoring the vital seventh goal late in the match that was suspended for an hour due to thunderstorm and poor field conditions.
Javier Patino debuted in style, getting two goals, while Stephan Schrock and Carli de Murga contributed a goal each.
It was De Murga’s goal in the 90th minute that gave the Azkals the edge over Turkmenistan in goal difference. Turkmenistan beat Cambodia, 7-0, last Friday.
The Azkals face the Turkmen today needing just a draw to top the group and advance to the main tournament in the Maldives next year.
Except for a needless red card by Paul Mulders for hitting a Cambodian player late in the match, it was a classy performance for the Azkals, billed as the country’s strongest team ever.
It was the biggest victory by a Philippine side since it beat Timor Leste, 7-0, in the Asean Football Championship Qualifiers in Bacolod in 2006.
The Azkals were already cruising, 6-0, when their match against the Cambodians was stopped in the 65th minute by Sri Lankan referee Gavini Nebon. The match was also stopped right before halftime after the floodlights on the grandstand went out for about 10 minutes due to a power outage.
When play resumed after an hour-long stoppage, the Azkals desperately searched for the two goals they needed to take pole position in the group. The first came after a Schrock cross found its way to Younghusband at the far post. De Murga followed up Rob Gier’s saved header off a Schrock corner for the final goal.
There was no doubting the quality of play of the Azkals. Cambodia hardly didn’t get time on the ball as goalkeeper Roland Muller and the backline of Rob Gier and Juani Guirado hardly broke a sweat.
Under pressure to match Turkmenistan’s 7-0 thumping of the Cambodians last Friday, the Azkals probed early and often, particularly on the left flank, where Schrock was a constant threat.
Younghusband’s opening goal came from a cross from Angel Guirado on the right with the Loyola Meralco striker pouncing on some indecision by the Cambodian defense inside the box in the 25th minutes. /inquirer.net