CEBU CITY - The Philippine men’s football team may have failed to score against Malaysia after their friendly ended in a draw Sunday night, but that didn’t mean the Azkals didn’t try.
A quick look at the scoreline showed how relentless the Filipino booters were in front of goal as they made several clear-cut attempts that were just a bit off target.
And the Azkals’ offensive domination reminded coach Thomas Dooley of the trademark style of a legendary Filipino superstar athlete who has made a big name in another sport.
“We played offensive-minded attacking. It was like Manny Pacquiao, who just goes forward and forward and always tries to attack.”
“He is the best example of how we want to play and I think the team did a fantastic job,” the German-American mentor admitted, referring to the 35-year-old three-time Fighter of the Year, who is coming off a unanimous-decision win over Tim Bradley to regain the World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight title.
The Azkals have shown vast improvement since Dooley took over in February as the former US World Cup skipper installed a defined system that has resulted in more attractive football.
Despite the progress, the Azkals have found the back of the net only four times in five games since Dooley came in.
Still, the sleek-passing national side showed a few new facets of its game against Malaysia, including set plays off corner kicks, leading to better chances.
As a result, the Azkals put on an impressive show in front of the Cebu City Sports Center crowd in their first and last home game before vying for top honors in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup next month.
Even without leading scorer Phil Younghusband along with other foreign-based standouts, Dooley drew offensive threats in Nate Burkey, Ruben Doctora Jr., Patrick Reichelt, Martin Steuble, OJ Porteria, and Simone Rota.
“We wanted to take the game to them,” Dooley said.
Like how Pacquiao always is.