Philippines were unable to claim maximum points in the opening game of their 2014 AFC Challenge Cup Group B campaign after being held to a 0-0 draw by Afghanistan.
In a keenly-contested clash at the Addu Football Stadium, the Azkals had a number of excellent chances to win it but were just unable to find the finishing touch in front of goal.
Stephan Schrock came close for them on the half-hour mark with a 40-yard drive that sailed over, before Patrick Reichelt was just unable to convert Simone Rota’s right-wing delivery eight minutes later.
Right on the stroke of halftime, Philippines were unlucky not to take the lead when Jason De Jong’s follow-up effort was saved by Mansur Faqiryar after James Younghusband’s initial header had come back off the bar.
Afghanistan did have a golden opportunity in the 67th minute when substitute Mustafa Zazai broke the offside trap, only to miss the target with only Neil Etheridge to beat.
Schrock then wasted another opening 11 minutes later when he fired wide after OJ Porteria had won possession and played the ball to him, before the Azkals’ final chance went begging in the final minute when Reichelt sent a free header narrowly wide of the opposition goal.
In Tuesday’s other Group A game, Laos were handed a heavy 5-1 loss at the hands of Turkmenistan.
It was Thim Xad who took the lead three minutes after the half-hour mark when Khampheng Sayavutthi pounced on a half-clearance, and sent a spectacular bicycle kick into the back of the net.
But Turkmenistan equalised three minutes before the break when Dowlet Bayramow netted with a close-range header, after the ball had smashed off the post and bounced into his path off the back of Vatthana Keodouangdeth.
The Turkmen then edged ahead in the 50th minute when Didar Durdyyew scored from the spot after Bayramow had been fouled inside the area by Sengdao Inthilath, and it was 3-1 two minutes later as Keodouangdeth could only deflect the ball over his own line following a goal-mouth scramble.
The result was put beyond doubt in the 85th minute when Farhad Italmazow raced down the right and played a perfect cross to leave Durdyyew with a simple finish, before Bahtiyar Hojaahmedow completed the rout three minutes from time when he sent an unstoppable shot past Keodouangdeth.
Philippines v Afghanistan
Philippines: Neil Etheridge, Simone Rota, Jerry Lucena, Juan Luis Guirado, Daisuke Sato, Chris Greatwich (Jason De Jong 21’), Martin Steuble, James Younghusband (OJ Porteria 63’), Stephan Schrock, Patrick Reichelt, Ruben Doctora (Kenshiro Daniels 77’)
Afghanistan: Mansur Faqiryar, Abbasin Alikhil, Haroon Fakhruddin, Faisal Sakhizada, Zamir Daudi (Hassan Amin 56’, Amiruddin Anwar 82’) , Mustafa Azadzoy, Faysal Shayesteh, Balal Arezou, Mohammad Mashriqi (Mustafa Zazai 64’), Ahmad Hatifi, Mustafa Hadid.
Turkemistan v Laos
Turkmenistan: Nikita Gorbunow, Sohrat Soyunow, Akmyrat Jumanazarow, Serdar Geldiyew, Serdar Annaorazow, Suleyman Muhadow, Guwanc Abylow (Bahtiyar Hojaahmedow 82’), Didar Durdyyew, Dowlet Bayramow (Farhad Italmazow 73’), Myrat Hamrayew, Ahmet Atayew (Umidjan Astanow 46’).
Laos: Vathana Keodouangdeth, Ketsada Souksavanah, Saychon Khunsamnan, Khonesavanah Sihavong, Phoutthasay Khochalern, Soukaphone Vongchiengkham, Lembo Saysana (Sopha Saysana 77’), Bountavy Sipasong (Chuefong Xiong 84’), Sengdao Inthilath (Khamla Pinkeo 86’), Khampheng Sayavutthi, Tiny Boumalay.