Despite an equalizer late in the first half and a sustained pressure in most of the second, it wasn’t meant to be as the Philippine Azkals U22 suffer a 2-1 loss from a go-ahead goal in the 79th minute against Myanmar U22 in the Southeast Asian Games 2019 Group A men’s football encounter held in Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila last November 27.
The match began with the Philippines applying pressure against the Asian Lions even forcing a corner within the first five minutes of action.
Ceres-Negros talisman and national team captain Stephan Schröck has been lively in attack, initiating plays and supplying passes up front.
But Myanmar also showed some early signs of what they are capable of with glimpses of threatening speed on the counter.
The first clear chance of the match arrived for the hosts in the ninth minute when Gallantes saw his header go way over the crossbar off a feed from Schröck.
In the 13th minute, Myanmar demonstrated an almost moment of brilliance with midfielder Myat Kaung Khant unleashing a curler from the right edge of the box that only flashed wide of the far post.
The first quarter of an hour arrived with both sides settling well into the match with promising plays traded back and forth.
However the breakthrough did arrive for the lions in the 17th minute with forward Aung Kaung Mann capitalizing on the cleverly executed one-two pass that evaded the hosts’ defense and beat the arms of Azkals keeper Anthony Pinthus.
Philippines tried for a quick response, but the Burmese squad were able to hold on firmly onto their defensive tasks.
What followed is a spell of promising breaks in favor of Myanmar whose players were able to craft half-chances on a few occasions that raised some worry on the Filipino back-line.
Near the half-hour mark, Dennis Chung was able to exploit the right flank, earning his side a free-kick but Myanmar were not threatened in the ensuing set-piece.
After another chance arrived for the visitors a few moments after the half-hour, tried to push and build on a chance, to no avail as Myanmar once again almost successfully constructed another chance to increase their lead.
A brief stoppage followed when goalscorer Myat Kaung Khant suffered a knock from a corner-kick play, but the Burmese player turned out to be able to continue as play resumed.
It was all Myanmar at this point, as the Asian Lions found another gilt-edged opportunity in the 40th minute with a teasing low cross from the left side of the box that only failed to connect with a striker.
At around the 43rd minute, just as defender Edison Suerti was introduced, a rare golden opportunity arrived for the Azkals as Myanmar committed an uncharacteristically errant pass that saw the ball roll in front of the on-rushing, Chima Uzoka, but the forward took to much time to control the ball as the visitors were able to regroup and break down the possible opportunity.
The Philippines immediately made amends equalizing in the first minute of injury time as defensive midfielder Justin Baas unleashed a pile-driver inside the box off a feed from Dennis Chung from a well-timed cross initiated by mercurial midfielder Yrick Gallantes as both teams headed into the break all-square with one goal apiece.
After that equalizer, the Philippines immediately tried to build on the momentum after the restart by piling the pressure from the get-go.
In the 49th minute a Chima Uzoka seemed to have committed a costly miss by blasting Schröck’s well placed cross towards him high in the sky. But to the relief of the Filipino fans, the play has been ruled for offside.
Despite Schröck’s inspirational leadership on the attacking end, Myanmar suddenly sparked things up on the other side in the 51st minute with an on-rushing counter-attacking play but Dennis Chung busted his lungs to track back and chase the man with the ball that led to a timely intervention to snuff out the attack.
The Filipinos immediately tried to regain the momentum and sustain it as they continued to pile the pressure relentlessly on their opponents as the Burmese resorted to defend in numbers and hopeful balls upfield.
And just after the hour mark, the hosts unwavering efforts almost got rewarded as Schröck shimmied his way into Myanmar’s danger zone at the left, unleashing another sumptuous cross that just evaded Uzoka, but kindly bounced towards Baas’ path whose low drive just missed the far post.
But Myanmar produced a scare in the 63rd minute with what seemed a decent counterattack that beat the Azkals’ backline only for the linesman to raise for offside.
A few minutes of kind spell in favor of the Azkals continue to follow as it has been all the hosts who have been able to build chances upon chances save for the go-ahead goal as Myanmar finally got a free-kick in the 71st minute, but Pinthus was able to smother the ball after initially spilling it.
Stephan Schrock has been pulling the strings in several of the plays for the Philippines but a momentary lapse gave Myanmar a glimmer of an attacking chance with Aung Kaung Mann breaking away from Amani Aguinaldo only to see his chance denied by Pinthus.
Myanmar saw another chance came begging with pacy substitute striker Win Naing Tun denied but it just served as a premonition as he found the back of the net in the subsequent play in the 79th minute when he received a well-worked lay-over from Myat Kaung Khant as the visitors regained their control of the driver’s seat.
The conversion somehow changed the complexion of the match as the Azkals lost the pressure they were able to bring to the opposition a few moments ago as Myanmar suddenly seem to be on the ascendancy late in the game.
In the 90th minute Anthony Pinthus made a crucial stop to avoid the Azkals from suffering a two-goal deficit by denying a clear one-on-one chance for Myanmar.
A late freekick for the Philippines taken by Schröck was saved by Asian Lions’ keeper Sann Sat Naing as time eventually expired with Myanmar getting their first win of the campaign at the Azkals’ expense with a 2-1 scoreline.
Philippines U22 will next face an important match against six-time SEA Games gold medal winners, Malaysia on November 29, 2019 at 8:00PM also at the Rizal Memorial Stadium while Myanmar face Timor-Leste in an earlier 4:00PM kickoff also in the same venue
Photo credit: Philippine Football Federation