Karl Decena, InterAKTV
The Philippine national men’s football team was outclassed by a tough United Arab Emirates side, 4-0, in a friendly match on Saturday (early Sunday morning Manila time) at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Azkals goalkeeper Ed Sacapaño put up a gallant effort, deflecting most of the hosts’ shots throughout the match. But the 71st-ranked UAE proved to be too much for the 137th-ranked Filipinos, who found themselves on the receiving end of the defending Gulf Cup champion’s relentless attack.
UAE pounced on the Azkals defense right from the opening whistle, making six quick attempts on goal for the first 18 minutes.
Sacapaño stood his ground between the sticks, blocking UAE’s shots and even showing aggressiveness on the defensive end by helping the backline prevent some attacks.
However, the hosts eventually broke through Sacapaño’s tough keeping with a goal at the 19th minute courtesy of Salem Musalam. Walid Abbas followed it with a conversion at the 40th minute to give UAE a comfortable 2-nil cushion at halftime.
Sacapaño got hurt at the 54th minute after getting hit by a streaking UAE player. But he managed to save another shot just moments after the incident to prevent another UAE goal.
Ismaeil Matar buried a shot from the top of the box at the 60th minute to put UAE ahead with a comfortable 3-nil cushion.
Second half substitute Ali Mabkhout hit the back of the net at the 78th minute to settle the score for UAE.
Playing before a lively crowd that also had a handful of UAE-based Filipinos in attendance, the Azkals didn’t have much chance at the offensive end for the whole match against the hosts, who dominated the possession from start to finish.
The Filipinos only managed to take three shots, none of which were on target. UAE had 29 shots, 11 of which were on target.
After the loss, the Azkals only have a few days of rest before they plunge back to action on November 15 to face India.