| BANGKOK (Jan 16, 2007) – Unrated Philippines pulled of a famous 0-0 draw against fancied Myanmar to deprive the latter of a semi-final berth from Group A in a decisive match at the Army Stadium here today.
The Myanmar-Philippines and Thailand-Malaysia final round Group A matches were played simultaneously at two different venues to forestall any attempt at a contrived result as the chase for semi-final slots turned on goal differences rather than a higher points tally.
In the event, the game of football’s unpredictability upset pre-match expectations and fancied Myanmar were stalled in their semi-final quest by soccer minnows Philippines.
Myanmar needed to win big and Malaysia required victory to secure semi-final berths but a slender 1-0 win to Thailand and an unexpected draw in the Myanmar-Philippine clash meant that Thailand and Malaysian went through from the group.
Myanmar paid a heavy price for their inability to slow the pace of their game on a pitch that was rather soft for their preferred one touch play.
In the second half, Myanmar virtually camped in the Philippine half but they forward just could not score or otherwise hit the post and when they were on target Filipino goalkeeper Louie Michael Casas displayed a plucky pair of hands.
At 1.71cm, Casas is the shortest keeper in the tournament but his safekeeping, fine judgment and agility made him then outstanding player of the night.
Single-handedly, Casas kept the marauding Myanmar forwards at bay in the last 10 minutes of play plus three minutes of injury time.
Philippine head coach Jose Ariston Caslib said after the match: “We could have won but our players lacked the quality exposure. We came to this tournament looking for six points from two wins but in the end we were lucky to emerge with one point.
“But I think we are on the right path and Philippine football can go forward from here provided the young players continue to play the way they did today.”
Myanmar head coach U Sann Win said: “Philippines were lucky. We attacked for forty-three minutes in the second half but our forwards were unlucky not to score.
“This is football. But we are encouraged by the fact that our players are young and can improve for the future.”