After witnessing the Philippine Azkals’ 3-0 defeat at the hands of China in their second assignment in the Asian Cup, here are some quick take and views on the match.
It was a much bitter pill to swallow compared to the loss in the opener against South Korea given the hope that that particular match has provided heading into the clash against Marcello Lippi’s men. But in the end, it seemed the odds prevailed as an upset – a monumental draw at least – did not materialise.
Sensational Wu Lei – The difference
China’s forward Wu Lei has scored two majestic goals that went unanswered that proved pivotal for his squad in getting their second win on the bounce at the expense of the Philippines.
The first goal in the 40th minute virtually came out of nowhere as the Shanghai SIPG target-man unleashed a shot at a place and time that caught the defence unprepared.
It seemed an ill-advised attempt in which standard thinking would opt for a cross rather than a shot, but the effort was so good that it had enough power and dip to evade Michael Falkesgaard and find the back of the net.
The second goal from the same player in the 66th minute was top-class in terms of skill, as Wu Lei produced a spectacular volley from a set-piece delivery that had more than enough power and speed to beat Falkesgaard once again.
China’s third goal in the 80th minute proved to be just the icing on the cake as it could have been dealt much better by the Philippines’ defence.
I feel for the Azkals’ frontline
Even before the match, the Azkals were expected to have a much fewer number of chances than China, and it showed.
But with what few opportunities that were created by Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson’s men, they ended up either being saved, blocked or missing the target.
China were able to frustrate the Azkals on the final third because the latter were only able to muster four shots, with none going on target as the statistics have shown [even Kevin Ingreso’s 1st half injury time shot was palmed away by Yan Junling even before it could be determined if the trajectory would shift down into target].
What’s next? Kyrgyz Republic
After the loss against China and with South Korea only mustering a goal in their win over Kyrgyz Republic, the Philippines see themselves at the bottom of Group C.
For now, as their third match of the campaign awaits on Wednesday, the Azkals should focus on recovery in the best possible way for them to be able to get a result against their last group phase opponents – regardless of their chances of getting into the knockout rounds.
For the squad, and the Filipino football fans, January 16 is gonna be the game of OUR lives!
Photo credit: AFC Asian Cup