Philippines aim to forget AFF woes by qualifying for first Asian Cup

Captain Phil Younghusband says Philippines are determined to put the disappointment of last year's AFF Suzuki Cup behind them to qualify for their first-ever Asian Cup.

Despite co-hosting the tournament for the first time, the Azkals failed to win a game, and weren't able to progress beyond the group stage of November's Southeast Asian showcase.

But they made a triumphant start to their 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying campaign by beating Nepal 4-1 in their third-round opener on Tuesday night.

Younghusband scored twice in two first-half minutes for a comfortable victory in the Group F opener at Rizal Memorial Stadium. Next up, they will travel to Dushanbe on June 13 to face Tajikistan, who lost 2-1 away to Yemen on the same night.

"I think the most important thing is we got a good start, winning this game," Younghusband told the-afc.com.

"That puts us in a very good position. Our goal is to make it to the Asian Cup and this is one step towards achieving it."

Younghusband put the frustration of missing a 13th-minute penalty to mastermind his team's success against 10-man Nepal.

Nepalese midfielder Birkam Lama was given his marching orders for the penalty incident after blocking Javier Patino's goal-bound header with his hand on the line. But Younghusband's penalty was stopped by Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong.

"My Dad always told me that when you miss, you have to make the next one because if you miss again that will play in your mind until you finally score," said Younghusband.

@jamesyounghusband7 bullied me into doing the 5 ball cross bar challenge with him ✖️⚽⚽⚽✖️

A post shared by Phil Younghusband (@philyounghusband10) on

"Once I got the second penalty, I felt more pressure, because if I missed that one, that's two but I think it's always important to get a goal when you do miss a penalty because then, you forget about the one you've missed. I was happy to have the chance, thanks to my teammates."

The other goals came from Australian-born Iain Ramsay in the 27th minute, with Patino grabbing the fourth midway through the second half.

The 29-year-old Younghusband added: "I think the most important thing is we got the win. We could have had more goals, whether it comes down to goal difference, we don't know, but the most important thing is getting the win and making sure we play well."

The younger of Younghusband brothers in the national team -- midfielder James is 11 months older -- now has 45 goals in 87 appearances for Philippines, since making his senior debut in 2006.