Scoreless draw against nemesis Thailand feels like a win for Azkals skipper Rob Gier
Azkals strike star Phil Younghusband show his appreciation for the large crowd that watched the Suzuki Cup semifinal home tie against Thailand at the Rizal Stadium. Jaime Campos

THE Philippine men’s football team may have fallen short of a win, but holding Thailand scoreless is an achievement in itself in the eyes of Rob Gier.

The Azkals skipper felt a goal was the only thing missing in their match against the Thais in the first leg of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals on Saturday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

“We were excellent today,” Gier said after the goalless draw. “The commitment was exactly what I expected it would be. We’re composed on the ball. Maybe we could’ve done a little bit better with the final pass.”

[See Azkals settle for scoreless draw against 10-man Thailand in home semi]

Still, the result was nothing short of impressive especially against a Thai team that steamrolled through the group stage, going unbeaten in three matches with seven goals.

The Azkals also avoided losing for the 15th straight time against their Southeast Asian neighbors. Their last meeting ended in a 3-0 friendly win by the Thais last month.

“A lot of people outside the Filipino press didn’t think that we stood a chance against this team,” Gier said. "They felt they were going to walk over us.

“But I think we’ve proved a lot of people wrong today.”

Making the partisan crowd proud was prime motivation for the Azkals.

“This is our home,” Gier said. “The energy was excellent, the way we closed people down, we hustled.”

“So they’ve got to bring their A-game if they want to beat us,” the Filipino-British defender added as the Azkals look forward to the return leg on Wednesday in Bangkok.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos