Cambodia, who went into their match against the Philippines knowing that a draw would give them second place in Group G, had to settle for exactly that at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Saturday.
The hosts, who lost their opening match 1-0 to China and defeated Myanmar 3-2 in their second, played to a scoreless draw despite turning on the heat in the second half.
Sin Kakada, who scored with two superb free-kicks against Myanmar, Seth Mannsouth and Sieng Chanthea all came close on several occasions, only to be thwarted either by second-choice keeper Jessie Reil Semblante or the woodwork and some poor finishing on their part.
The Philippines, looking to redeem themselves after 6-0 drubbings at the hands of China and Myanmar, played like a team transformed.
Strikers Mariano Suba Jr and Joshua Brocen and captain Jericho Sinconiegue proved constant thorns to their opponents with their speed and turn of pace but couldn't find a way through the Cambodian defence.
Cambodia will now have to wait until all group qualifiers are concluded to see if they’re placed among the five best second-placed teams to advance to the Finals.
Jose Maria Aberasturi: Philippines head coach
“The players followed the plan, which was to contain Sin Kakada, Sieng Chanthea and Teat Kimheng, who are all very good and dangerous players. The defence played very well, and this is the best we’ve been among all three qualifying matches. Cambodia are a very good team. They just keep running and running, and my players couldn't keep up, which explains all the substitutions in the second half. We only had less than a week of training, and so I’m quite pleased with how the qualifiers turned out.”
Inoue Kazunori: Cambodia head coach
“We expected a win and three points to have a better chance of qualifying for the Finals, so a draw is a regrettable result. But my players tried their best. We are still weak in the basics such as ball control, passing and finishing. We had many chances, but failed to convert them. We need to rectify these weaknesses to obtain better results. Over the course of the three games, I can't say we have been playing as well as we should as we keep losing many balls. But again, I must say the players did their best.”