Thomas Dooley insists his Philippines side can “hold their heads high” after being eliminated from the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup with a 3-0 aggregate defeat to Thailand in the semi-finals.
After playing out a 0-0 draw in last Saturday’s first leg in Manila, the Azkals found themselves outclassed at the Rajamangala Stadium on Wednesday as their opponents cruised to victory courtesy of Chanathip Songkrasin’s sixth-minute opener and a second-half double from Kroekrit Thaweekarn.
But having seen his side accomplish a number of historic feats in the past few weeks, Dooley was quick to point out that they can be proud of what they have achieved.
“Overall, I’m happy with the way we played and the results we’ve had in this tournament,” he said.
“We managed to claim an outstanding 4-0 win over Indonesia in the group stage, which was the first time we’ve beaten them in 80 years, and then we were able to draw with Thailand at home.
“We can go back with our heads held high and it was a good tournament where we played nice football.
“The only thing was that we came up against a side that were probably at a different level in every area.”
Having made it to the last four in the past three editions of the Suzuki Cup, Philippines have now firmly established themselves as a genuine force in Southeast Asian football.
Nonetheless, Dooley admits there are still areas where they must improve if they are to take the next step and win the tournament for the first time in their history.
“We already knew that if Thailand didn’t have a good game and we had a great game, then maybe we would stand a chance,” the former United States international added.
“It’s already very difficult to play against a strong Thailand side and then you have those fantastic fans pushing them on. Congratulations to Thailand – they are a great team and deserved to win this semi-final.
“I need to watch the replay of the match but it looked like we made some mistakes that we’ve talked about over and over again.
“It certainly didn’t start well when we gave them a freekick in a dangerous position after just 30 seconds, which was exactly what we didn’t want to do.
“Then, just when we got better in general play in the second half, we had another error in the defensive area, where we lacked urgency when we needed it.
“Thailand are definitely one of the strongest teams I’ve seen but it’s always 50-50 in football, so we’ll have to wait and see if they win the cup.”