The Azkals are still unable to get a win over Thailand after going to a draw in the first leg of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup Semis
The much coveted win against Thailand after 15 attempts still eludes the Philippine Azkals.
But the Filipino booters are more than happy with the result they got in the first of two legs of the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup semifinals at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The Azkals at least kept a clean sheet in their home stand settling for a scoreless draw but showed a lot of grit against a supposedly more superior opponent.
Phil Younghusband almost broke the stalemate in the 53rd minute pulling away from his defender and getting a beautiful through ball from Daisuke Sato. But the star striker buckled on his attempt to shake off Thai goal keeper and skipper Kawin Thamsatchanan and blew a golden chance to score a goal.
“I just lost my footing. I don’t know I just fell. My legs gave way and I saw the goal but my legs just went to the floor,” Younghusband explained. “Siyempre disappointed ako pero I think we showed tonight that we can compete against teams like Thailand.”
The Azkals controlled most of the possession, posing threats that kept the Thais falling back to protect their goal. The Filipinos kept building up their offense getting the ball in the box without relying on long balls and giving out excellent short passes thanks to their reliable midfield distributions.
“Yun ang gusto ni coach (Thomas) Dooley. Mahilig siya sa short game and passing because you have the advantage if you have the ball and when you play longer balls then more often than not you lose the ball,” he added. “It showed that we get more success when we play that kind of game.”
Though Dooley thought that they deserve a win with the way they played, the German-American mentor was happy with the draw.
“I’m OK with it because we didn’t give a goal. It is always important that you’re not getting scored on at home,” he said. “I’d rather be tied 0-0 than losing 1-0, obviously, or tied 1-1. I can live with that. But on the other hand we deserve to have a goal and we deserve to win today.”
Amani Aguinaldo contributed also in defense, bullying his way against Thai attackers. Most importantly, Aguinaldo was successful in getting in the head of Adisak Kraisorn causing the Thai a red card and suspension on their home game on Wednesday at the Rajamangala Stadium.
Kraisorn elbowed Aguinaldo in the neck in retaliation after the Filipino shoved him from behind. The referees didn't saw Aguinaldo's action but spotted the Thai hit the Filipino, who fell to the pitch grabbing his neck.
The Azkals will leave for Thailand on Monday on a familiar territory.
Two years ago in the group stage, the Azkals lost to the home team on the same venue, 2-1 – part of Thailands 14-game winning streak over the Filipinos that span four decades.
The Azkals are on the same situation in the 2012 Suzuki semifinals against the dethroned champion Singapore. They settled for a scoreless draw in Manila before taking the boot in Singapore, 1-0.
If the Azkals get a scoring tie in Thailand, they will march into the finals due to the higher value of an away goal.