Azkals held to scoreless draw vs Malaysia in friendly
Lacking cutting edge on the attacking third, the Philippines settled for another scoreless draw against Malaysia played on Wednesday night in a friendly geared to prepare the Azkals for their AFC Asian Cup Qualifying campaign at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Playing their first game since their group stage exit in the AFF Suzuki Cup, the Azkals couldn’t find the back of the net again with Phil Younghusband and Javier Patino wasting a couple of big chances in the first half.
The result extended a long, winless drought for the Philippines against Malaysia with the Filipinos last win coming in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games in Manila.
“We would have loved to win after 26 years (against Malaysia),” said coach Thomas Dooley. “We ran alot, we played nicely, but we just couldn’t finish. The last pass I think was a bit off. But the most important thing is the Nepal game.”
Well-drilled and disciplined defensively, the Malaysians frustrated the hosts for long periods and almost snatched a late winner through Veenod Subramaniam, who just narrowly shot wide off Neil Etheridge’s goal in the 85th minute.
“It’s always tough to play against the Philippines,” said Malaysia coach Ong Kim Swee. “But I believe this game serves the purpose for us especially the Philippines. Its a fair result. The Philippines put a lot of pressure on our defense but we were able to counter they’re strength.”
Back at full-strength with Javier Patino, Daisuke Sato and Neil Etheridge returning to the squad, expectations were high for the Azkals to finally overcome the Malaysians, whom they had played to four straight stalemates since 2011.
Azkals coach Thomas Dooley had the luxury of a loaded attack line for the first time since the win over North Korea last year. But the forwards struggled to link up and pick apart a Malaysian defense that hardly put a foot wrong.
The Azkals did dominate the opening 45 minutes, but the best chance they could come up was a strike from Phil Younghusband from the edge of the box that was expertly saved by Mohd Khalid. Patino also got on the end of a ball from a good ball from Iain Ramsay, but the Henan Jianye striker in the Chinese Super League couldn’t sort out his touch and managed just a tamed effort.
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