Unable to build on its strong performance against Singapore, the Philippines absorbed a 1-2 loss to lower-ranked Laos Monday night in an ill-tempered showdown in Vientiane that capped its three-country Southeast Asian swing aimed at preparing the squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup late this year.
The Azkals conceded two second-half penalty kicks which the Laotians duly converted, before grabbing a late consolation goal from defender Rob Gier, who scored his first international goal in the second minute of stoppage time.
Playing their third match in six days, the Azkals missed top striker Phil Younghusband, his brother, James, who flew back to Manila Saturday, and Jerry Lucena, who returned to Denmark after the 2-0 win over Singapore last Friday.
The travel-weary Azkals attacked with little purpose and struggled to cope with the fluid passing of the Laotians, who extended their unbeaten streak against the Philippines to nine matches.
But the match will be remembered more for its ill-tempered nature, particularly the melee in the second half where Misagh Bahadoran was sent off along with a Laotian player.
Prior to the melee, replays showed that the Fil-Iranian was struck in the mouth after getting tangled with a Laos defender.
Azkals manager Dan Palami offered no excuses, saying that Laos deserved the win.
“It was a heated, physical and highly competitive game that we wanted to win badly but these do not excuse some of our players for losing their temper,” said Palami. “We truly apologize for the incident.”
Minutes later, Stephan Schrock and Jason Sabio were jawing with another Laotian player, Keoviengphet Liththideth, while another player was seen throwing a punch, almost sparking a free-for-all.
The Azkals’ fortunes hardly changed after the incident and minutes later, Laos doubled the advantage with Visay Paphouvanin slotting home a penalty after he was brought down by Neil Etheridge.
Patrick Reichelt sent a left-footed effort high and wide, before Mulders volleyed over seven minutes from time as the Azkals grew desperate.
Gier’s goal came from a long throw-in from Sabio, whose ball appeared to have touched a Laos defender’s hand before falling kindly to Gier inside the six-yard box.