THE Philippine men’s football team found the quality competition it was looking for and received a reality check on Saturday night as it bowed to United Arab Emirates, 0-4, in a friendly at the Zayed Sports Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The Azkals, searching for top-notch foes to toughen them ahead of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May, surrendered two goals in each half as they lost to one of the best teams in Asia in their home turf.
The result was not surprising, although hoping to avoid a blowout loss, Azkals coach Michael Weiss opted to field an experienced side rather than give members of the Under-23 team the valuable exposure they needed.
Homegrown Filipino goalkeeper Ed Sacapaño sparkled as the Azkals’ last line of defense, keeping the Arabs at bay early on with his superb saves.
The Arabs, however, finally unlocked the Azkals’ defense 19 minutes into the game, courtesy of Salem Saleh, before Walid Abbas doubled the lead five minutes before first-half stoppage time.
Ismael Matar joined the scoring foray in the 60th minute, before Ali Ahmed Mabkhout completed the rout 19 minutes later.
The Azkals continue their Middle East tour with another friendly against India in Chennai on Friday.