05 March 2014

Philippines battle Azerbaijan in Dubai

Following a scoreless draw against Malaysia, the Philippine national team flew to Dubai on Sunday to prepare for another friendly against European side Azerbaijan, tonight at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium.

The Azeris, ranked 93rd, will be the first European opposition for the Azkals in 17 years after losing to Estonia 1-0 in 1997 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Coach Thomas Dooley sees the Wednesday fixture as another perfect test for his squad, especially as Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena and Javier Patiño all flew to Dubai to reinforce the side ahead of the match. 

Schrock and Lucena rejoins the squad after last being called up for the India friendly while Patiño makes his return to the squad after being last called up for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. 

"Just like the game against Malaysia, Azerbaijan will also be a perfect for us," said Dooley. "Everybody has to step up a notch to compete with better teams."

Although his side was unable to score a goal in his coaching debut against Malaysia, Coach Thomas Dooley was pleased with the players' performance.

"I watched the game vs Malaysia twice and I was pleased with the players' performance despite only training for a short time," said Dooley. "It wasn't perfect, but it was good, we tried to play (Malaysia) all the time."

Dooley was also pleased with the five players that made their debuts against Malaysia, namely Patrick Deyto, Simone Rota, Martin Steuble, Ruben Doctora Jr., and Kenshiro Daniels.

"I was pleased with their debuts," said Dooley. "Everybody had a good game."

Azerbaijan recently finished fifth in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers drewing Russia 1-1 in their final qualifying match.

The Azeris also played Estonia in a 2-1 defeat and Kyrgyzstan in a 0-0 draw.

Leading Azerbaijan is head coach Berti Vogts, who led Germany to a European championship victory in 1996.

"Vogts is a good coach, a kind of coach that someone wants to learn something from," said Dooley on his opposite number. "Everything he does is organized, and it is similar to what I need to instill in my players."


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