A HOPEFUL start quickly turned ugly as the Philippine Azkals absorbed an 8-1 beating from China on Wednesday night in their friendly in Guangzhou.
The visitors not only absorbed a demoralizing defeat, but will also have to deal with several health issues six days before an Asian Cup qualifier against Tajikistan after James Younghusband, Daisuke Sato and Bahadoran were taken out due to injuries.
Among the three, it’s Bahadoran who looked the most shaken after he was seen clutching his knee, just a few weeks after recovering from an MCL injury.
Early goals from Ren Hang and Xiao Zhi put the Guo Zo in control but the Azkals’ aggressive play early offered a glimmer of hope against one of the strongest sides they've faced in recent years.
The Azkals got that break in the 34th minute when Mike Ott threatened off the counter, forcing the Chinese 'keeper to go beyond his line and allow Bahadoran to slot in the first goal for the Azkals.
But whatever momentum the Azkals got was quickly snuffed out as Yu Hanchao headed home China’s third goal with less than a minute left before the break.
Things just got worse for the Philippines from there.
Wang Yongpo and Chen Zhizhao scored in the first 10 minutes of the second half, after coach Azkals coach Thomas Dooley took off Amani Aguinaldo in favor of rookie Camelo Tacusalme and Junior Munoz for Kenshiro Daniels.
The Chinese continued to up the pressure from the backline, forcing the Azkals to spread wide before Zang Xizhe made it 6-1 in the 68th minute by getting back at Patrick Deyto for saving his penalty a few minutes back.
Deng Hanwen then wrapped up things for the hosts by scoring the final two goals before more than 21,000 home fans at Tianhe Stadium.