Philippines, Myanmar win as Vietnam draw in Asian Cup qualifying
Tuesday was a good night for much of Southeast Asia in qualification for the 2019 Asian Cup, with Philippines staying on course for the tournament in United Arab Emirates.
The Azkals recorded a thrilling 4-3 win at Tajikistan to move onto six points from two games in Group F.
After Phil Younghusband put the visitors ahead in Dushanbe just before the half hour, the game looked over when Javier Patino scored either side of half-time to give the Philippines a 3-0 advantage.
Two goals in the space of four second-half minutes -- the first was a penalty from Parvizdzhon Umarbayev and the second from Dilshod Vasiev -- brought Tajikstan right back into it.
Daisuke Sato settled the Azkals' nerves with 10 minutes remaining but there was still time for Manuchekhr Dzhalilov to pulled a goal back for the hosts.
Cambodia moved second in Group C in qualification for the 2019 Asian Cup with a famous 1-0 win over Afghanistan at Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium.
Prak Mony Udom brought almost 50,000 fans to their feet with the only goal of the game on the hour against the South Asian team.
The passionate supporters cared little that the goal was not the most spectacular of strikes. Afghanistan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi miscontrolled a back pass and his clearance hit the approaching Mony Udom and bounced into the net.
The 2013 South Asian champions did their utmost to get back into the game but the hosts hung on for what was a deserved win with the talented Chan Vathanaka a constant thorn in the paw of the Lions of Khorosan.
Coming after a run of eight successive defeats, there were major celebrations upon the final whistle as the country dares to dream of what would be only a second-ever appearance on the continental stage, and the first in over four decades.
With leaders Jordan held to a 0-0 draw against Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh, the group is looking wide open.
Vietnam had been forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan in the opening game, but defended stoutly against the 2011 Asian Cup quarterfinalists.
It makes the September all-ASEAN clash between Cambodia and Vietnam all the more anticipated.
In Group A, Myanmar bounced back from a disappointing opening game loss at the hands of India to win 4-0 in Macau.
Sithu Tung got the ball rolling early on and added his second, and Myanmar's third, in the second half after Kyaw Ko Ko had got on the scoresheet on the half-hour. With 16 minutes remaining, Min Min Thu sealed the win and a comfortable three points for the White Angels to take back to Yangon.
While Malaysia suffered a late 2-1 home defeat against Lebanon in Johor Bahru, their other Group B rivals drew. Hong Kong held North Korea to a 1-1 result in the former British colony. Tan Chun Lok opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time only for Kim Yu-Song to equalise almost immediately after the restart.
Bahrain moved into top spot in Group E with a 2-1 win in Turkmenistan, leaving Singapore just two points off a place in the top two, despite losing 2-1 at home to Chinese Taipei on Saturday.
Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.