Philippines’ impressive start to life under new coach Thomas Dooley continued on Wednesday as they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by Azerbaijan in an international friendly.
Although it was Azerbaijan who got off to a livelier start at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, the Azkals gradually found their groove and were posing quite a stern test for their opponents.
Chances fell at both ends and Dooley’s charges had a decent opportunity in the 14th minute when Jeffrey Christiaens whipped in a dangerous cross after being released down the left by Misagh Bahadoran, only for Javier Patino to narrowly miss connecting at the far post.
But in the 26th minute, it was the European side that found the breakthrough when Elvin Yunuszade outjumped Rob Gier to meet a corner, before sending a header past Patrick Deyto.
Still, Philippines refused to be deterred and continued to threaten after halftime; Phil Younghusband missing out on an opening in the 50th minue after just failing to bring a fine pass by Stephan Schrock under control.
Patrick Reichelt had one final chance to force the draw 15 minutes from time when he sent a header towards the top corner, but Kamran Agayev made a fingertip save to ensure Azerbaijan would emerge victors at the final whistle.
Still, there will be plenty for positives for Dooley to take with this latest display coming just four days after his side held Malaysia to a 0-0 draw.
Azerbaijan: Kamran Agayev, Badavi Guseynov, Elnur Allahverdiyev, Vagif Javadov, Gara Garayev, Rufat Dadashov, Rauf Aliyev, Ruslan Abishov, Ruslan Amirjanov, Tugrul Erat, Elvin Yunuszade.
Philippines: Patrick Deyto, Simone Rota, Rob Gier, Juan Luis Guirado, Jeffrey Christiaens, Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena, Martin Steuble, Misagh Bahadoran, Phil Younghusband, Javier Patino.