Cooper likes first look at Azkals
RIFFA, Bahrain—It took new Philippines coach Scott Cooper a few more minutes after his first match to learn what could be the best quality of the squad he brought here for his first training camp.
Skipper Phil Younghusband scored his 51st international goal as the Azkals settled for a 1-1 draw against Bahrain, which salvaged a last-gasp equalizer in a friendly in hot and humid conditions at National Stadium Thursday night.
But while Cooper is still in a period of putting in the system that he wants his squad to play in preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup and Asian Cup in the next few months, he did find out the character of his team after the draw.
“I go inside the dugout and I see the faces were so disappointed it looked like they lost and that is a good sign,” said Cooper.
“If you look at our squad, [there are] a number of players who were missing and a new coach and a new system of play. That’s why I think to feel disappointed to draw is a good sign.”
Cooper only had a couple of training sessions to work with his squad, which featured returning players Stephan Schrock and Angel Guirado, Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and newcomer Amin Nazari, who played the holding midfield role. The English coach experimented with a three-man defense made up of Amani Aguinaldo, Carlie de Murga and Luke Woodland.
“The system is just 15 percent in place and so if you’re in a position to win the game at 15 percent, all in all, it’s satisfying,” said Cooper.
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