The Philippine Azkals put up a spirited effort but ultimately fell to South Korea, 1-0, in their 2019 AFC Asian Cup Opener at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, Monday evening, Manila time.
South Korea controlled the pace of the match in the first half, dominating ball possession by a large margin, but the Filipino side displayed tremendous defense, keeping the scorelines at 0-0 stalemate by the end of the first 45 minutes.
The Azkals did have their chances late in the first half, highlighted by a Daisuke Sato cross that found its way to Javier Patiño for the Filipinos’ best attempt of the first frame.
The Filipinos continued to try and push the pace as the second half began, with Patiño once again coming within inches of converting for the Azkals.
The South Koreans finally breached the Azkals defense in the 67th minute however, with Hwang Uijo firing a shot from just in side the box and sending it into the top left corner for the conversion.
The tournament favorites, who finished as runners-up in the 2015 edition of the Asian Cup, dominated possession once again as they kept the Azkals at bay for their first three points of the tournament.
The Azkals meanwhile, take a close loss in their first-ever Asian Cup fixture, but can take solace in the fact that they were able to push the fourth-ranked nation in Asia to the limit and held them to just a single goal.
The Pinoy side will hope to keep the same confidence and momentum as they meet China PR next on Friday, January 11th at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
“We’re not just taking part (in this tournament). It’s our first time, but we showed today how good a team we are. (It’s) a quality team we played against,” Philippine Azkals defender Luke Woodland said.
“We’re looking forward to the last 2 games and i think we’re gonna shock some people.”