THE Philippine men’s football team continued its magical start to its Fifa World Cup/AFC Asian Cup joint qualification campaign, blanking Yemen, 2-0, Tuesday night at the Qatar Sport Club Stadium in Doha.
Brimming with confidence following a 2-1 win over fancied Bahrain last week, the rejigged Azkals duplicated the feat with another splendid showing in the second half to score the shutout victory in neutral territory.
It was considered a home match for Yemen, which could not play in its country due to security reasons brought by political unrest.
Misagh Bahadoran scored for the second straight match, while Iain Ramsay converted his first international goal for the country in just his second game donning the nation’s colors.
But it was Javier Patiño who made both goals happen with the Filipino-Spanish striker’s pinpoint passes as the Filipino booters gained the share of lead in Group H with North Korea.
“I’m happy with the way we moved the ball around, created chances,” Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said. “We’ve been working so hard. We’re creating a team that works to be successful.”
The Azkals dominated possession from the get-go, but failed to capitalize on their chances off set pieces and counterattacks in the first half.
The Filipino booters were finally seven minutes after intermission – just like in the home match against Bahrain – when Bahadoran, starting in the place of injured Stephan Schrock, caught a right-side feed from Patiño before striking with his left foot to the top-right corner.
Patiño, who scored against the Bahrainis, continued to be a facilitator, finding Ramsay, who doubled the lead in the 74th minute with a left-footed strike as well from the middle.
Luke Woodland, who gained clearance from the Fifa Players’ Status Committee to play on the eve of the match, took Rob Gier’s starting centerback spot and anchored the backline that had wingbacks Daisuke Sato and Jerry Lucena.
The Azkals’ momentum, though, will be hampered as their next match is not until September 8 when they host Uzbekistan at the Philippine Stadium.