By Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBNnews.com | 11/25/2012 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The Thailand War Elephants frustrated the Philippine Azkals, 2-1, in a highly-physical encounter in the group stage of the 2012 Suzuki Cup.
The Thais scored 2 goals in the first 45 minutes before the Filipinos got back in the game with a goal in the second half at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.
The Azkals played toe-to-toe with the War Elephants in the first 10 minutes, but the Thais began playing rough, bruising at least two Azkals in the succeeding minutes.
A rough tackle by a Thai player bloodied Phil Younghusband’s eyebrow.
Later, another Thai hit Jerry Lucena with a knee on the head, sending the Danish-Filipino to the ground.
This enabled the War Elephants to enjoy more ball possession, allowing them to crack the Azkals' offense late in the first half.
Jakkaphan Pornsai scored the first goal to post a 1-0 advantage for Thailand in the 39th minute.
Two minutes later, Anucha Kitpongsri eluded the Azkals’ defenders for the War Elephants' second goal.
The Azkals tried to find their groove in the second half and despite a few questionable calls from game officials, Paul Mulders successfully fired a goal past Thailand’s defense.
In the end game, including a 5-minute injury time, the Filipinos furiously attacked the goal but were hampered by Thailand’s delaying tactics.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss was so frustrated that he threw the ball at a Thai who was faking an injury.
This prompted game officials to eject the German coach from the game.
The Thais eventually got away with the victory to nab the Group A leadership with 3 points. (A win gives a team 3 points; a draw earns one point).
The Azkals will next face Vietnam on Tuesday.
In the other Group A match, Myanmar held top-seed Vietnam to a 1-1 stand off.
The Vietnam Red Warriors, the 2008 champions, built a 1-0 lead against the Myanmar White Angels in the first half.
The White Angels were able to equalize via a penalty kick in the second half.
Myanmar, which earned a seat in the Suzuki Cup by topping the qualification round, earned 1 point just like Vietnam because of the draw.