THE Philippine national Under-23 team is now on the brink of elimination after absorbing a 3-1 setback to Cambodia Wednesday night in the 28th Southeast Asian Games football competition at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.
Coach Marlon Maro’s squad, which also lost to host Singapore, 1-0, Monday night, is now in a must-win situation when they face Myanmar on Sunday.
“We must win our last two matches against Myanmar and Indonesia or we go home early,” coach Maro said.
The Cambodians, who nipped the Nationals, 2-1, in the AFC Under-23 qualifiers in Thailand last March, posted a 2-0 lead in the first half with goals from Prak Many Udom and Keo Sokpheng in the 30th and 41st minutes, respectively.
They, however, refused to bow down easily and fought back with a goal by striker Paolo Sanlenga off an assist by Filipino-Nigerian Kennedy Uzoka some eight minutes into the second half to cut down the gap to just within one point, 1-2.
But Cambodia’s Cham Vanathaka widenes the gap, 301 in the 81st minute after slipping past his opponent’s backline to score from the left flank through the legs of Filipino goalkeeper Florencio Baedelic Jr. With the win, Cambodia posted its first win in Group A.
And Maro hopes Singapore will beat Cambodia and the Filipinos will win over Myanmar to forge a possible triple tie at the second spot.
Maro’s team will be playing without Arnel Amita in their next game against the Burmese. Amita was ejected after getting his second yellow card off an unnecessary foul in the 92nd minute of the injury period, which merited automatic one-game suspension.
“We played a very poor first half and a very good second half. We have to play strong for 90 minutes,” Maro said. “If we had finished things off with the chances that we had, we could have at least one point (with a draw) tonight.”
Maro said he may tap defender Mark Anthony Besana to boost their back row on Sunday’s match.