By Celest R.

MANILA, Philippines—Philippines [...]

Aff Suzuki Cup: PH Azkals fall 1-2 to Thais

By Celest R. Flores

MANILA, Philippines—Philippines couldn’t get out of the first half hole and fell to Thailand, 1-2, Saturday night in its opening assignment in the AFF Suzuki Cup group stages in Bangkok.

Paul Mulders pulled one back for the struggling Azkals in the 76th minute—but the goal to at least forge a stalemate was just elusive.

Thailand moved to the lead in group A with three points, while Vietnam and Myanmar—which settled for a 1-1 draw earlier—have a point apiece.

The Thais, with their waves of relentless attacks, scored two goals in just a span of two minutes in the first half—and still remained sharp and dominated the pace in the second.

Jakkraphan Pornsai slotted one home in the 39th minute just infront of the box, then Anuch Kitpongsri managed to elude his defender then get around ‘keep Ed Sacapaño for the goal just two minutes after.

Sacapaño, though, still had a solid showing for the Philippines—thwarting the bulk of Thailand’s countless attempts.

The Philippine side did not have the luxury Thailand had when it came to shot on goals as it could not get the momentum with the Thais hounding their every step.

Subsitute Patrick Reichelt, replacing James Younghusband who, like his brother Phil, had a tough time Saturday night, made things happen, for a moment.

A wide-open Mulders connected on a fine cross from Reichelt, giving the Azkals live with just a few minutes left in the match.

But Philippines suffered a huge blow when its head coach Hans Michael Weiss was sent off in the 81st minute.

Weiss was caught by the referees intentionally throwing the ball at Thailand’s Anucha Kitpongsri, who was lying down in the pitch.

It was rugged from the beginning as 20 minutes into the match, Phil Younghusband already suffered a cut to his left eyebrow while Jerry Lucena took a knee to the head.

The Azkals, with zero points after the first day of group A action, face a familiar foe in Vietnam on Tuesday as the group stages continue.

A more aggresive Thailand netted two goals to take a 2-0 lead over the Philippines at halftime of 2012 Aff Suzuki Cup group A match Saturday night in Bangkok.

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