THE Philippine men’s football team may have shut out Maldives, 2-0, in their friendly on Thursday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, but it was an expected result considering the talent and depth of the host side.
The Azkals could’ve scored a more lopsided victory had they gone off to a great start against a visiting squad that’s 50 spots behind them in the world rankings.
“We should be beating these kinds of teams already with the kind of team we have,” Azkals manager Dan Palami beamed. “We were more interested in trying to gauge how they are back from a long vacation from the national team.”
The Azkals looked rusty and tentative early as they played their first match as a unit since June, needing an own goal early in the second half to get them going in the exhibition that served as a tune-up for their World Cup Qualifying match against Uzbekistan.
Their performance was definitely a far cry from what they showed in their impressive wins against Bahrain and Yemen that kicked off their qualifiers campaign three months ago.
But Palami hopes what they showed is what Uzbekistan will remember ahead of their match on Tuesday night as the Azkals manager found out the Uzbeks sent their technical director who acted as scout on Thursday night.
“I hope we were able to send him the wrong signals,” Palami said with a chuckle.
Still, Palami believes the Azkals got a decent warm-up against an Uzbekistan side ranked 76th in the world.
“I think we got what we wanted from this friendly: a morale-boosting victory as well as the chance to look at most of the players and where they can actually fit in.”