THE Philippines will have to wait another two years in its dream of reaching the semifinals anew of the Southeast Asian Games football championships.
Despite a 6-1 whipping of Timor Leste yesterday at the Binan Stadium in Laguna, the Junior Azkals failed in their bid to advance beyond the group stage after Cambodia sealed the last semis slot in Group A with a 3-1 lacing of Malaysia at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Veteran Amani Aguinaldo scored a hat trick in the fourth, 86th and 90th minutes but his heroics were not enough to lift the Filipinos into the semifinal round of the tournament for the first time in years.
Although the Cambodians and Filipinos finished with seven points each, the former advanced on better goal difference and will meet the Group B topnotcher in the next round.
The Philippines closed out its campaign with two wins, one loss and a scoreless draw against Cambodia when they met each other last week at the opening of the competition.
Idle Myanmar topped Group B with 10 points on three wins and a draw.
The eliminations end today with three matches that will decide the semis cast in Group A.
Running second in Group A, defending champion Thailand was set to face pacesetting Vietnam, which had 12 points, with the War Elephants needing a win at the Binan Stadium to make it to the semis.
The Thais are tied with the Indonesians, who face eliminated Laos at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, with nine points each.