THE Philippine men’s football team lived up to the hype as it outclassed Cambodia, 8-0, in to open its Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup Qualifiers campaign on a bright note in an interruption-filled Sunday game at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Phil Younghusband shone brightest with four goals, while Javier Patiño and Stephan Schrock showed the quality the Azkals missed in the Suzuki Cup last year as the Filipino booters, parading arguably their best lineup ever, gained the lead in the standings on goal difference.
“We have to give credit to the players who played today, but it wasn’t a walk in the park to get eight goals,” Azkals coach Michael Weiss said.
“Basically we want to play a passing and more-possession style of play, which they did very well even against a very strong defense in the first half,” the German mentor added.
With Cambodia putting all its men deep, the Azkals initially found it hard to crack the defense of their Southeast Asian neighbors until Younghusband open the floodgates 25 minutes into the game when he scored from close range off a pass from right-back Carli de Murga.
Six minutes later, Younghusband followed up his own goal with a curling shot that went past the outstretched arms of Cambodia ‘keeper Samreth Seiha, before the prolific Filipino-British strike star came through anew three minutes later with a header that bounced off the crossbar before going in.
Patiño, the former Spanish second-league veteran who made his debut for the national team, joined the scoring fray when he made his debut goal for his mother’s homeland right in first-half stoppage time.
Just when the whistle signaling the start of the second half was blown, Schrock compounded Cambodia’s woes when the Bundesliga veteran scored his own curling shot from long range.
Patiño continued to the show what the Azkals missed in the Suzuki Cup when he struck anew with a composed, quality finish in the 57th.
Younghusband added to his first international hat-trick when he found the back of the net off a left-footed long-range cross from Schrock.
Right-back de Murga capped off the Azkals’ scoring spree with a flying kick shot right before second-half stoppage time.