THE rookies impressed but the veterans were not as lucky in front of goal as the new-look Philippine men’s football team settled for a scoreless draw against Malaysia in their friendly on Saturday night at the Selayang Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Kicking off their buildup for the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup, the Azkals showed chemistry despite welcoming a handful of debutants in coach Thomas Dooley's first game in charge.
But the 127th-ranked Azkals just could not find the back of the net against their lower-ranked Southeast Asian neighbors in a highly physical affair marked by seven yellow cards.
It was the third draw in as many games between both squads after they produced two stalemates two years ago.
Homegrown goalkeeper Patrick Deyto sparkled in his seniors’ squad debut as he saved several shots from a Malaysian side that’s preparing for an Asian Cup qualifying match against Yemen.
Simone Rota also impressed as the starting right-back as the Filipino-Spanish defender also made his inaugural appearance along with Martin Steuble, Ruben Doctora, and Kenshiro Daniels.
The Azkals, though, dodged a bullet 11 minutes into the game when Safee Sali’s header was disallowed for a foul on Rob Gier before his made attempt.
Phil Younghusband, Misagh Bahadoran, and Doctora created the Azkals’ best chances that just failed to find their marks.
The match was halted for a while late in the first half when smoke from fans’ flares filled part of the pitch.
The Azkals next face Azerbaijan on Wednesday in Dubai.