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Philippines 2 Macau 0 in Long Teng Cup Final Match

Local-born Emelio “Chieffy” Caligdong came in as a second half substitute and scored both Philippine goals in a 2-nil victory over winless Macau on the last day of the week-long Long Teng Cup. Even before the start match, it was clear that the Philippines needed a 5-goal win along with a draw between the host country and Hong Kong in the tournament’s final match later in the day to win the championship.

Were it not for the crossbar, though, Macau would have been celebrating a totally undeserved lead in the 39th minute after a quickly taken freekick on the right flank and a fierce drive left Roland Mueller in the Philippine goal absolutely helpless. As things were, justice was done as the woodwork stood in the way of a shot that would have given undeserved gloss to Macau’s lack of ambition.

Macau had only two shots at goal prior to that chance. Both were from deep in midfield and neither needed any attention but that of the ball boys behind the goal. Mueller, outstanding in the previous match against Chinese Taipei, could have used a paperback novel.

To be fair, Macau could do little against an excellent Philippine national team. Mark Hartmann, berated online for a childish tweet just before the Chinese Taipei match, was given a starting place in the middle alongside Jason de Jong. The latter was returning after a one-game suspension.

The pair gave the Philippines the balance in midfield that was missing in the previous match. The game was kept simple and everyone participated in a patient short passing game. Hartmann provided the passes that linked the defence with the attack; while de Jong did the dirty job tirelessly behind him.

Speculative tries by Ian Araneta and Phil Younghusband were followed by a great chance by the lively Jeff Christiaens in the 12th minute. Christiaens, given the starting role for the rested Emelio Caligdong, shot from a narrow angle and saw his effort blaze just wide of the right upright.

Christiaens again was at the heart of the action in the 25th minute when he burst down the left wing to set up a chance for Araneta. The latter’s shot was weak and comfortably saved by the Macau goalkeeper.

In the 32nd minute, a well-measured long ball from James Younghusband released his brother Phil down the left flank. The younger brother was hounded by two Macau defenders but managed to play the ball back to Christiaens, whose first time cross was again headed by Araneta over the bar.

Macau threatened again in the 36th minute when leftback Nickson Leonora was left stranded upfield. The cross, however, sailed over everyone and went out for a harmless Philippines throw. This isolated bit of enterprise was followed once again by relentless pressure at the other end; with Hartmann, the Younghusbands and Christiaens all missing chances.

For the second half, Michael Weiss sent in the talismanic Caligdong to play on the right flank, pulling back the excellent James Younghusband down to central defence in place of Oliver Poetschke. The move immediately increased the tempo of the Philippines’ play and Phil Younghusband had his first shot on target a minute after the break.

Caligdong had a shot rebound from off the right upright in the 47th minute; but that was only the prelude to the opening goal, which came 10 minutes later. Mark Hartmann’s freekick from the left sailed over to the far post, where Caligdong was waiting to pounce. His initial shot could only be parried by the Macau goalkeeper and he made no mistake with the rebound.

The Philippines pushed men forward in search of more goals; and the new central defensive pairing of Aly Borromeo and James Younghusband had to be called upon to deal with Macau’s occasional fast breaks.

At the other end, Araneta and Phil Younghusband hunted for goals but were denied by poor finishing or just the sheer absence of luck. It took another weighted pass from Hartmann to finally unlock Macau’s defence for the second time in the 88th minute. Caligdong was completely unmarked just top of the box, collected the ball on his chest, and blasted home a left-footed shot past the desperately diving Macau goalkeeper.

Caligdong had a chance to complete his hat-trick when Phil Younghusband cut the ball back from the right in second half added time. The ball did a wicked bubble just as Caligdong struck to send it over a gaping goal. Not that it would have mattered, as no less than a five-goal win would have given the team a chance at winning the championship.

The Philippines total domination was summed up by the post-match statistics, which showed that it had 27 shots on goal against a mere 8 by Macau. Of these, 10 were on target.

Chinese Taipei needs to defeat Hong Kong to win the tournament. The latter, which is a goal to the good in the goal difference column, only needs a draw.  A big win by either opens the door for the Philippines to finish second.  Otherwise, the Philippines finishes the tournament third, as it did in the tournament’s inaugural edition in 2010.

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