JOVIN Bedic came in as a substitute late in the match and made all the difference as he scored the equalizer in the Philippines’ 1-1 draw with Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Wednesday at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.
Coming on in the 78th minute, the pride of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo made the most of the opportunity given by manager Sven Goran Erikkson byscoring in the 80th minute to preserve a solid performance by the host team.
After a scramble in the middle of the pitch, Bedic conspired with Patrick Strauss to ge a clear shot at goal from inside the box, the ball bouncing off the corner post and beating Thai 'keeper Chatchai Bootprom.
“First of all I think we played very well, all 90 minutes. For me we were the better team out there, we created more situations,” said Erikkson, obviously pleased in his first big match in charge of the Azkals.
“The 1-1 is okay but we could have won the game, I’m very happy with the performance of our team, I think they played very well against a good team,” he added. “If we play football like this, we’ll qualify to the finals or semifinals."
The Azkals pretty much controlled the match from kick-off, though it didn’t translate into goals. Stephan Schrock was a problem for the Thais on the right flank often beating his markers and feeding delicious crosses into strikers Phil Younghusband and Patrick Reichelt.
The War Elephants, though, drew first blood as Phillip Roller set up Supachai Chaided in the 56th minute to give the five-time Suzuki Cup champions the lead.
The Philippines, however, was unrelenting as Bedic came on and quickly changed the complexion of the game, hitting the equalizer that left both sides tied at the top two of Group B with seven points after three games.
A win on the road against Indonesia on Sunday will assure the Azkals a place in the semifinals. The Indonesians tumbled out of the competition after the draw between the Azkals and the Thais.