Philippines routs East Timor, must beat Thailand to keep semis bid alive

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The Philippines and Thailand fattened their goal difference against weaker foes ahead of a crucial clash against each other that will determine which among them will advance to the semifinal stage of the 2020 Suzuki Cup.

The Philippines, which lost its lost first game to Singapore, 2-1, vented its ire on a young East Timor side, 7-0, while Thailand said hello from the winning side of a 4-0 romp of Myanmar. Thailand, which also won its first game against East Timor, 2-0, now sits on top with six points, while idle Singapore is second, also with six points, trailing only on goal difference.

MORALE-BOOSTER. After that confidence-boosting win against East Timor, the Azkals will take on Thailand, a team it has never defeated in the tournament.

The Philippines is third with three, ahead by six goals of Myanmar, which also has three points thanks to its 2-0 win over East Timor on Dec. 8.

And on Dec. 14, the Philippines will take on Thailand, a team it has never defeated in Southeast Asia’s biggest tournament. The last time the two teams met was in 2018, when the Azkals drew, 1-1, thanks to a Joven Bedic equalizer. Previous meetings in the tournament were 1-0 for Thailand in the 2016 group stage; 0-0 and 3-0 for Thailand in the 2014 two-legged semis; and 2-1 for Thailand in the 2012 group stage.

Though it has the edge on goals scored against Thailand, the Philippines has to beat the War Elephants as a draw means it will need Singapore to beat Thailand in the last game so the Azkals can advance as the No. 2 team next to Singapore. Of course, should East Timor manage to log a Hanoi Miracle of its own against Singapore on Dec. 14, a draw against Thailand and a win against Myanmar will be enough for a spot in the knockout stage.

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

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