By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Philippine Azkals Under-19 national football team kicked off its 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification stint with a disappointing loss against Oman, 0-3.
All goals generated by the opposing host team were sent in the first half and served as an early wake-up call in the prestigious tournament.
It only took eight minutes for Oman to draw first blood against the young Filipino booters after Nasser Ali Al Saqri found the back of the net at the eight-minute mark.
Five minutes after Al Saqri’s conversion, Oman doubled their lead after striker Khalid IbrahimAL Sulaimi tapped in a short kick that got past Azkals’ goalkeeper.
After the first two goals, the Azkals anchored their backline better and attempted to attack the Oman defense but disaster happened once again.
Oman found an opening during the 30th minute of the matchup courtesy of Ali Hassan Al Bulushi that capped off their offensive party with an early 3-0 lead in the first half.
The Filipinos came out with a sense of urgency after the second-half whistle was blown but failed to convert on their attempts to score.
Despite the improved defensive schemes the Filipinos deployed to halt Oman’s offensive surge, the Azkals still failed to match their intensity into goals that could’ve stopped the bleeding in the first half.
Oman now piled up its tournament score to three points in Group G after the convincing win while the Azkals landed the third spot.
The young Azkals crew will look to notch its first victory in the competition when they face the powerhouse Thailand team in their next game scheduled this Saturday.