BANGKOK - Philippines coach Aris Caslib has called on the organisers of the Asean Football Championships to address the condition of the pitch at the Suphachalasai Stadium after his side slumped to a 4-0 defeat to Malaysia on Friday evening.
Philippine captain Ally Borromeo sustained a knee injury in the build-up to Malaysia's first goal after just eight minutes of play and the California-born defender had to be replaced by Alvin Ocampo.
The injury and Borromeo's subsequent substitution shattered Caslib's game-plan and has seriously damaged the Philippines' hopes of earning a place in the semi-finals.
'I think Malaysia deserved the win,' he said. 'But the organisers should look at the condition of the pitch, especially after what happened to our captain. We lost a very good player.
'Malaysia worked hard for their goals but after we lost our best central defender we had big problems. Now we have to lower our target to picking up three points.'
Hairuddin Omar gave the Malaysians the early lead with a header and eight minutes later he almost struck again, this time nodding his effort from Irwan Fadzli Idrus' corner against the bar.
However, Nizarudin Yusof was on hand to hook the ball home to double Malaysia's lead.
The Malaysians had to wait until the second half before they added to their total when an Anton Del Rosario own goal gave the 1996 runners-up their third in the 69th minute.
And, with 10 minutes to go, Hairuddin completed the scoring and round off a deserved victory for the Tigers.
'The first match is always very difficult and I congratulate the boys for winning the game,' said Malaysian coach Norizan Bakar. 'This gives us a morale boost for our next game against Myanmar.
'We were a bit shaky in the first 15 minutes and got into the game after about 20 minutes which was when we started playing.
'We are taking it one match at a time and instead of sitting back we have to look forward.'
The Malaysians, who have failed to reach the final since the tournament's inaugural year, next take on Myanmar on Sunday while the Philippines face the daunting task of meeting co-hosts and three-time champions Thailand.