THE Philippine Under-22 men’s football team plays its final game in group play in the 30th Southeast Asian Games today, taking on winless Timor Leste in a match to be played at the Biñan Football Stadium in Laguna where it hopes to get a favorable result to keep its bid alive.

Currently sporting a 1-1-1 record, joint second with Cambodia and Malaysia, the Young Azkals have to beat Timor Leste in their 4 p.m. match, preferably by a wide margin to pad its push for the semifinals, and hope that the football gods smile at them.

The Philippines sits at fourth place, with Cambodia and Malaysia, which are taking on one another today at 4 p.m. at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, having the higher tiebreaker points at plus-4 and plus-3, respectively.

The Young Azkals will see its bid greatly helped with a win over Timor Leste and Cambodia and Malaysia fighting to a draw. In such a scenario they advance outright to the knockout semifinals.

A win by either Cambodia or Malaysia though will have the Philippines needing to really win big against Timor Leste and push their goal difference, which right now stands at zero, up to catch up with the other teams.

In Group A where the Philippines is lumped into, only Myanmar (3-1-0) has secured a spot in the semifinals.

In the SEA Games, tournament format calls for the top two teams in the two groupings at the end of group play advancing to the next round.

Tiebreakers are decided by goal difference first and goal scored second.

The Philippines enters today’s match off a spirited 1-0 victory over Malaysia on Nov. 29.

Stephan Schrock, one of two of the team’s overage players, provided the go-ahead goal off a corner kick in the 73rd minute for the host side.

Malaysia desperately tried to get the point back but the Young Azkals would not allow them to, with the Philippines eventually sealing the victory.

Timor Leste, meanwhile, is out to exit the tournament on a winning note.

It lost 4-0 to Malaysia in its last game on Dec. 2. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo