A nearly full-strength Philippine men’s football team failed to live up to the hype, settling for a scoreless draw with Cambodia in their friendly at the Phnom Penh National Stadium on Wednesday night.
Despite dictating the tempo throughout the match and having the lion’s share of possession, the 150th-ranked Azkals never found the back of the net against the Royal Khmers, a team ranked 41 places below them.
The Azkals had more attempts (18-5), shots on goal (11-3), and corner kicks (9-3) than the Cambodians.
Chieffy Caligdong, who wore the captain’s armband, Denis Wolf, Carli de Murga, and Patrick Reichelt failed to make the most of the Filipino booters’ scoring chances.
The decision mirrored the result of the two teams' last meeting in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup qualifying stage two years ago.
Heavy rains in the second half affected the condition of the natural pitch, but it was then that the Azkals seemed to turn it up a notch.
The Azkals’ best chance came in the 87th minute from Reichelt, whose strike from the right side of the box was just denied by the left post.
The Filipino-Spanish De Murga, who scored for the Azkals in their friendly against Guam in Bacolod last June, also had a near goal in the 66th minute when crossed over his defender but his left-footed kick went straight to the Cambodian keeper’s chest.
In an uncharacteristic showing, returning Fulham goalkeeper Neil Etheridge made a blunder in the 62nd minute when he failed to cleanly receive a pass from Caligdong and gave a scoring opportunity to Cambodia. Luckily, he recovered possession of the ball a few seconds later.
“Positive results from the young ones! On another day and a better pitch we would've taken it!” injured captain Aly Borromeo posted on his Twitter account @alybor11 after the match.
The Azkals next face Singapore two days later before taking on Laos on September 10.