BANGKOK - There are some ghosts that just refuse to be slayed.
The Philippine men's football team fell prey to Thailand once again, 3-0, on Wednesday, and in the process, fell short of a finals berth in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup at the Rajamangala Stadium.
The Azkals fell behind just six minutes into the match and never recovered from then on as they wilted under pressure playing in front of a boisterous crowd at the packed 80,000-seat venue.
“Sometimes, if you want to win games like this in that kind of a stadium with so many fans and against a very strong team, everything has to fall in place, and it didn’t work in the right direction,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said.
It was another heartbreaking result for the Filipino booters, who had aimed for no less than a title following two runner-up finishes in the AFC Challenge Cup and the Philippine Peace Cup earlier in the year.
It was also the Azkals' 16th loss in 19 outings to the Thais, who have had their numbers for over four decades.
Needing just a scoring draw to advance after holding the Thais to a scoreless draw in the first leg, the Azkals seemed to play without a sense of urgency and as a result, paid the price after Chanathip Songkrasin broke through their defense six minutes in with a strike from the middle that Patrick Deyto failed to save.
Although the Azkals held the fort the rest of the first half, until Kroekrit Thawikan added to the Filipinos' misery with two goals in the second half for a Thai side that hardly missed top strikers Kirati Keawsombat due to injury and Adisak Kraisorn to suspension.
The Azkals heard the boos from the crowd every time they touched the ball, with the loudest jeers toward young defender Amani Aguinaldo, who drew the foul in the first leg that led to the red card and suspension of Adisak.
Martin Steuble conjured the Azkals’ best scoring chance in the second half with a long-range attempt from the left side that was just denied by the Thai goalkeeper.