BOCAUE, Bulacan –While everybody was worried about the Azkals’ defense, it was their offense that turned out needed improvement.
The Philippines failed to pounce on 10-man Singapore as it settled for a scoreless draw in their Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup opener on Saturday night at the Philippine Sports Stadium.
The Azkals saw the Lions go a man down after Hafiz Sujad picked up a straight red card following a hard tackle on Phil Younghusband, yet the home side failed to take advantage.
“We created a few chances…but that’s not the kind of football that I like to play,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said.
Pika Minegishi made his debut and provided a spark off the bench in the second half, but his two shots were slightly off target.
The Filipino booters thus settled for the solitary point to tie their victims in second spot in Group A behind defending champion Thailand, which has three points after a 4-2 win over Indonesia earlier.
The Azkals continue their campaign on Tuesday against the Indonesians, who they need to beat to pick up enough points before their clash against the fancied Thais on Friday.
With the absence of Daisuke Sato and Javier Patino, the Azkals had to field a makeshift defense composed of Amani Aguinaldo, Jeffrey Christiaens, Kenshiro Daniels, and Kevin Ingreso, a backline that held up and kept a clean sheet.
It was the Azkals’ offense that lacked precision as they couldn’t seem to get a rhythm throughout the match despite controlling the lion’s share of possession with the visiting side also choosing to sit deep after going a man down.