Azkals absorb 1-2 decision to Bahrain
MANAMA, Bahrain—Playing a new system aimed at maximizing its strengths, the Philippines pushed Bahrain to the limit before dropping a 2-1 decision Monday night in a friendly at Bahrain National Stadium here.
Not even a dominant second-half performance by the Azkals could overhaul an early two-goal deficit on a windy night in the Bahraini capital.
The Azkals played with three defenders, but they kept the ball well and looked threatening going forward. It was in their finishing where they were found wanting.
“We did well in the second half,” said Azkals coach Thomas Dooley. “But we must convert our chances. We can’t afford to create seven or eight chances and score just one goal. That’s not going to be enough against the strong teams.”
Manny Ott struck his third international goal in less than a year as his well-placed low shot from outside the box just after the hour-mark gave the Azkals a glimmer of hope for a comeback.
But the Azkals couldn’t find a second goal with Phil Younghusband, OJ Porteria and Mark Hattmann blowing chances.
The Azkals conceded two goals off set pieces, with the first one coming off a well-worked corner kick pattern and the other on a wind-aided free kick that left Roland Muller rooted to his spot.
Both goals came four minutes apart until the 31st minute. But except for those two strikes, it was a game where the Azkals dictated the pace and tempo.
Younghusband bungled an opportunity off a corner kick not long after, skying his shot with the goal at his mercy. Patrick Reichelt could only send his close-range volley off a Daisuke Sato cross straight at the keeper as the Azkals again struggled with their finishing.
Playing with a spring in his step, Ott won the ball at midfield and, with no one closing him down, fired a low effort to the bottom corner to the delight of a few hundred Filipinos in the stadium.
Alvaro Silva, who played at the middle of the back three, delivered a commanding performance on defense on his 31st birthday.
“I think the game has taught us that we can play in a different system that gives us more options in the World Cup qualifiers,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami. “It was a good test, especially against a strong team like Bahrain.”
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