The Philippine national men’s football team, Azkals failed to end its Southeast Asian tour on a high note, suffering a 2-1 loss to a less experienced Laos side Monday night at the national stadium in Vientiane.
As the Azkals struggled on their attack for the whole game, Laos took advantage of the Filipinos’ defensive miscues by scoring both its goals on penalty kicks.
Despite playing in just its first international friendly this year, Laos showed precision on the pitch for most of the first half against the Azkals, resulting to multiple attempts at goal that ended up in the hands of Philippine goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.
Laos finally hit the back of the net at the 53rd minute on a penalty kick off a foul by Azkals defender Rob Gier inside the box.
Things got contentious at the 66th minute as players from both sides got involved in a scuffle — one Laos player was caught on camera punching Azkal sub Misagh Bahadoran — delaying the match for almost five minutes. Curiously, Bahadoran received a red card and was sent off.
Etheridge then committed a foul inside the box at the 79th minute, resulting to yet another converted penalty kick for Laos.
Gier scored a goal in injury time, but it was not enough for the Azkals to overcome the deficit.
The Azkals played without stars Phil and James Younghusband, who were in Manila to commemorate the first death anniversary of their late mother. The Philippine team visibly missed the presence of top striker Phil, failing to capitalize on good looks at goal late in the match.
With the defeat, the Azkals continued their winless streak against Laos, which they have failed to beat in nine matches dating back to 1995.
The Azkals capped their Southeast Asian tour with only one victory to show, a 2-0 triumph over Singapore. They drew Cambodia in a nil-nil result last Wednesday.
Aside from looking to gain points to improve their world ranking which currently seats at 150th, the Azkals are using the matches to prepare for the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November.