MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Azkals head coach Hans Michael Weiss is satisfied with the national team's performance despite losing to a higher-ranked Kuwait side last Tuesday night at the Kuwait Sports Club Stadium in Kaifan.
The Azkals lost, 1-2, after the Kuwaitis converted a penalty in each half. Phil Younghusband scored the lone goal for the Philippines.
"I think we made tremendous progress, and we played very, very good, especially in the second half," Weiss told Maxxy Santiago of ABS-CBN Middle East.
The speedy Kuwaiti side, ranked 112th by FIFA, repeatedly attacked the Azkals’ defense in the first half, though goalkeeper Neil Etheridge made some spectacular saves for the Philippines.
"In the first half, we gave them too much space to run from deep behind so that caused us several problems. But Neil saved the fantastic penalty," Weiss said.
"I congratulate the team for their performance, especially in the second half," he added.
The loss to Kuwait comes after the Azkals held the 115th ranked Bahrain to a goalless draw last week.
The Azkals had lost to Kuwait, 1-5 on aggregate, in their World Cup qualifying matches last July. Weiss said that this latest result against a tough squad proves the team is steadily improving.
"We had a narrow 2-1 loss which could have been easily a draw, so I think that shows that we're going in the right direction," he said. "I'm satisfied, no problem."
Meanwhile, team manager Dan Palami said the friendly will help prepare the Azkals for November's Suzuki Cup.
"It's a very good preparation for the team. We are in the thick of preparations for the Suzuki Cup and this is one game that certainly made it realize how far we still have to go," Palami said.
"As far as the results are concerned, I think it's a fair result," he added. -- Report from Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN News Middle East Bureau