Mixing youngsters with veterans in the Azkals’ starting lineup, Dooley’s gamble paid off well as Curt Dizon, Martin Steuble, and Ruben Doctora netted in their respective debut goals for the Philippines, while also holding Nepal scoreless in front of a huge Filipino crowd at the Qatari capital.
The Philippines dominated the game right from the get-go as the midfield of James Younghusband, Chris Greatwich, and Steuble proved to be too strong for the Nepalese side who struggled to keep possession in the first half.
It only took 14 minutes for the Azkals to score the opening goal as Daisuke Sato dished out a precise assist off a free kick to the sneaking Dizon who evaded the keeper and punched in his first international goal.
Filipino-Swiss Steuble then doubled the Philippines’ lead as he headed in Younghusband’s cross in the 32nd for 2-nil.
After thwarting Nepal’s plays with timely tackles and hard-nosed defending, Jason de Jong, however, was shown a yellow late in the first half but the Philippines held on to their lead and entered the break with a 2-nil advantage.
The Nepalese then pushed harder in the second half as they took care of the ball better and pulled off some attacks of their own but the Azkals’ debutant keeper Nick O’Donnell did well between the sticks and kept the clean sheet until the final whistle.
The Stallion forward Doctora then put the icing on the cake in the dying moments as he danced through Nepal’s defense and put the ball into the back of the net for his first international goal for the Azkals.
The Azkals could have run away as 4-nil winners but 52nd minute substitute Phil Younghusband overcooked a last gasp effort from the edge of the box in stoppage time.
The win comes as a welcome progress for the Philippines shortly after they dropped 13 places in the latest FIFA Rankings.