| ILOILO CITY (18 May 2008) – Philippines failed to make the make the main draw of the AFC Challenge Cup after Tajikistan destroyed Brunei Darussalam 4-0 to top Group B at the Iloilo Sports Complex.
With the Philippines only managing a 3-0 victory over Bhutan in the other group match at Barotac Nuevo Football Plaza, the Central Asians qualified for the tournament proper on a better goal difference.
The AFC Challenge Cup will be held in Hyderabad on 30 July 30 to 10 August 2008.
“We played well but we got unlucky,” said Philippines coach Norman Fegidero, whose team did not concede any goal in all three games in the tournament.
“To miss out on a slot in the tournament on goal difference is frustrating,” Phil Younghusband said.
After a barren first half, Tajikistan hit back by scoring four goals in the second.
Yusuf Rabiev broke the deadlock a minute after the break before Dzhomikhon Muhidinov doubled the lead in the 61st minute.
Numondzhon Khamikov made it 3-0 eight minutes later while Rabiev completed the victory three minutes from time.
For the hosts, substitute Chad Gould headed home the opener in the 39th minute on a James Younghusband corner and Phil Younghusband’s deflected right-footed strike four minutes before the break doubled the advantage.
An own goal from Bhutan defender Rinchen Pema in the 59th minute made it 3-0.
Playing before a huge crowd, the Philippines attacked without let-up early on but were almost caught flat-footed on the counter-attack in the 32nd minute when Yeshey Dorji latched onto a Kinley Dorji throughball only to be stopped by Philippines custodian Neil Etheridge.
The Philippines had the lion’s share of possession, before finally breaking the Bhutan resistance through Gould, who rose the highest to meet James Younghusband’s corner kick.
Phil Younghusband struck two minutes later when his deflected effort wrong-footed Bhutan keeper Jigme Singye and went into the back of the net.