PHILIPPINES defeats Brunei, 2-1, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. — PFF

THE Philippines edged Brunei, 2-1, to give its Asean Football Federation Under-23 (U23) Championship campaign a bright ending Sunday at the Prince Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Dennis Chung and Sandro Reyes provided the goals as the U23 Azkals claimed their first victory in Group A before bowing out of the knockout stages.

The Pinoy youngsters, who earlier drew with Timor-Leste and dropped a 1-0 loss to the host Cambodians, finished third in the group with four points ahead of winless Brunei.

The Timorese beat Cambodia, 1-0, in the last game of pool play to finish No. 1 with seven markers and clinch the coveted semifinal ticket. With six points, the Cambodians settled for No. 2 and now hope to finish as the best second-placed side across the three groups to also advance.

Mr. Chung pounced on Brunei’s goalkeeping miscue off a corner to draw first blood in the 47th minute while Mr. Reyes delivered a fine strike off Andres Aldeguer’s assist 10 minutes later for 2-0. However, Muhammad Hakeme Yazid Said found the back of the net in the 59th to pull Brunei one back.

“We made hard work of this game. We scored two goals but we let Brunei come back,” said coach Stewart Hall. “At the very least, we finished the competition on a high with some players making their international debut.” — Olmin Leyba