The men’s national football team rediscovered its deadly form and crushed Timor Leste, 7-0, for its first victory in the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Singapore National Stadium late Saturday.
The Azkals proved too much for the young Timorese squad and claimed three full points in their Pool A campaign.
Seven Filipino boosters scored as they bounced back from a 2-1 loss against home team Singapore last week.
The win was the Azkals’ biggest so far in the Suzuki Cup, surpassing their previous 4-0 shutout of Indonesia in the 2014 edition.
With veteran campaigner Martin Steuble sparking the onslaught in the 21st minute, the Azkals netted six goals just in the first half, highlighted by naturalized striker Bienvenido Marañon’s first ever goal for the Philippines.
Designated coach Stewart Hall was impressed with the squad’s tenacity despite manpower problems.
“Obviously we’re pleased with the results. We’ve done a lot of work and meetings about the things we didn’t do very well against Singapore,” said Hall who is temporarily calling the shots for head coach Scott Cooper.
“And to be fair to the players, they’ve worked really hard on that tonight. And the result we got was seven goals so we really played through that.”
Steuble, already on his fourth Suzuki stint with the Azkals, stunned Timor Leste’s backline after rocketing a thunderous strike from outside the box midway through the first half.
Amin Nazari doubled the lead after hitting a loose ball off a Stephan Schrock cross from left flank in the 34th minute, while Angel Guiardo punched in a header three minutes later.
The Nationals continued their blazing run when striker Patrick Reichelt completed a team play and found the back of the net at the 40th minute.
Debuting Filipino-Swedish defender Jesper Nyholm, claimed the fifth goal off Kevin Ingreso’s corner kick in the 45th mark, before Marañon found himself wide open a minute later.
Timor Lester tightened its defense in the second half, but Ingreso found his way and delivered the finishing blow nearly 12 minutes left before the final whistle.
Hall said the win provided them enough motivation and confidence as they gear up for a tougher match against five-time Suzuki Cup champion Thailand on Tuesday.
“Everybody’s confidence was high after that win. We said we needed to score more goals against Timor-Leste than Myanmar or Thailand did,” Hall said.
“That was an objective without being disrespectful to Timor-Leste. We got forward in good spirit.”