Seedings for 2018 FIFA World Cup draw in April Pot 1: Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, China PR, Iraq Pot 2: Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Vietnam, Kuwait, Syria Pot 3: Afghanistan, Thailand, Philippines, Palestine, Maldives, Tajikistan, Lebanon, India Pot 4: Timor-Leste, Kyrgyzstan, Korea DPR, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Bhutan, Singapore, Indonesia Pot 5: Malaysia, Guam, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Yemen, Laos, Chinese Taipei, Cambodia 8 groups of 5.
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine national football team fell short against Bahrain, 2-1, despite a late game rally in the adversary's home stadium in Manama, Bahrain on Monday, March 30.
The Azkals opened the match with a better posture over their foes, pressuring the ball on several chances but their chances couldn't penetrate the quick responding Bahrain defense.
Striker Phil Younghusband had a better chance to clinch an opener for the Philippines in the 21st minute but the ball was snagged by the gloves of the rival team's goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, after 29 minutes of play, the home team managed to capture the first goal of the contest off a corner courtesy of Faouzi Mubarak.
Bahrain's lead immediately doubled to 2-0 following the score by Mubarak as a shot from a free kick by Abdulla Yaser from a distance left Azkals goalkeeper Roland Muller hanging and found the back of the net.
The Philippine national booters had a much-needed dose of confidence in the 61st minute as Manny Ott connected from outside the box to cut the deficit to just a solitary margin.
Coach Thomas Dooley's men scrambled to keep their offense going as time winded down on the first friendly match of the Azkals for 2015 as Patrick Reichelt found P. Younghusband off a cross but the latter sent in wide in the 84th minute.
Despite several last ditch efforts to notch an equalizer late in the match, the Azkals were left to settle for a 2-1 loss against their host country's national team. – Rappler.com
MANAMA, Bahrain—Almost a week into their training camp here, the Philippine Azkals are finally getting the hang of the system that coach Thomas Dooley is implementing.
Dooley described the Azkals’ training as “poor” on the first day, before seeing a gradual improvement heading into the friendly with Bahrain Monday night at Bahrain National Stadium.
The new system calls for the Azkals to play with just three players at the backline in a 3-4-3 system on attack that usually becomes a 5-4-1 formation on defense.
Dooley believes the Azkals could keep the ball better and widen their play with this scheme while being more compact defensively.
The Philippines has long been playing with four defenders in 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formations.
“I think we can do something differently and even if it doesn’t work at the beginning, we’re going to stick with it, we’re going to implement it and find the right players to be in those positions,” said Dooley.
Midfielder Jerry Lucena is optimistic that the system will work for the Azkals.
“It’s hard to get out of the comfort zone, but this is the way the coach wants to play and I’m sure everybody is working hard to make it work and make it better,” he said.
The match against Bahrain kicks off at 6:30 p.m. (11:30 p.m. in Manila). Bahrain lost to world No. 3 Colombia, 0-6, last Thursday, but Lucena, who was part of the team that held the hosts to a scoreless draw the last time they met in 2012, expects a different game this time.
“Colombia was really good and Bahrain did not have a chance to show how good they are,” said Lucena.
Azkals manager Dan Palami stressed that the performance will be the priority over the result.
“Putting it into context, everything that we’re doing here is for the World Cup qualifiers,” said Palami. “A win will be a good result, but we’re more interested in looking at how we play the system.”
Keeper Neil Etheridge has been ruled out of the game after he sustained a cut at the back of his head following a freak accident during lunch with the Filipino community here Friday.
Roland Muller is available, while Dooley is expected to play Alvaro Silva alongside Juani Guirado and Amani Aguinaldo at the back.