Chinese send Azkals on the ropes

January 12, 2019
Stephan Schrock and Linpeng Zhang
The Philippines’ midfielder Stephan Schrock (R) is ably defended by China’s defender Linpeng Zhang during their 2019 AFC Asian Cup group C football match.

DESPITE suffering a 0-3 crushing from the hands of China that put them on the ropes in the AFC Asian Cup, coach Sven-Goran Eriksson still has praises for the Philippine Azkals.

“It seems strange maybe, but I am rather proud of my team even though we lost 3-0,” said Eriksson after the match Friday.

For the 70-year old Swede coach, all is not lost for the Azkals, who need to hurdle a familiar foe in Kyrgyzstan convincingly in their final Group C fixture at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Wednesday to remain in contention for a place in the knockout stage as one of the best third place finishers.

The Kyrgyzs lost to South Korea, 0-1, in the other Group C match Friday at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. With six points, the Koreans and the Chinese have clinched spots in the Round of 16 of the continent’s biggest football showpiece.

Kyrgyzstan is currently ahead via goal difference over the Philippines, as the former Soviet Republic surrendered only two goals compared to the Southeast Asian side’s four.

“Overall though, in the two games we have played, we have shown that we can play football. We are not going home yet, and we will see what happens in the last group stage game,” said  Eriksson.

Wu Lei netted a brace while Yu Dabao struck in the 80th minute, just 19 seconds after the substitute entered the match, as China followed up its 2-1 conquest of  Kyrgyzstan.

The Azkals actually held on their own behind goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard until in the 40th minute, where Wu Lei scored off a Hao Junmin’s pass.

China then doubled the lead after Wu Lei found the back of the net off Hao Junmin’s 66th minute free kick.