Young Azkals, Harimau Muda gear up for SEA Games with goalless stalemate

Jarvy Gayoso looks to chip the ball past the Malaysian goalkeeper.

By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--In another turn in the story of draws between the Philippines and Malaysia, the under-22 sides fought for another goalless stalemate in their friendly at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.

Ninety minutes of football did not separate both sides to emulate their senior and club counterparts in recording draws.

The host team for the 2017 edition of the biennial meet showed an encore of its 4-1 domination over the 2019 host in Malaysia in their last meeting by going on attack mode in the first half, but the latter held on defensively and even came close to nailing a goal just before halftime as Jarvy Gayoso went on a one-on-one with the keeper only that the goalie saved the ball out.

The U22 Azkals then turned the tides in the restart, going aggressive to the goal as the U22 Malaysians began losing steam.

The U22 Azkals came very close to a goal in the 62nd minute as Jeremiah Borlongan got a piece of the ball just as a Malaysian defender was letting his netminding teammate grab it and flicked it to a now wide open goal mouth. The defender cleared the ball out just before it went in.

Despite the fatigue setting in, Malaysia kept the Azkals in check, leading to the deadlock at the final whistle.

Still, Coach Marlon Maro expressed positive feedback for the U22 Azkals.

"I am satisfied because I saw a lot of potential.... We have a team that plays aggressive football that can catch up with Malaysia in terms of speed and agility," said Maro, who fielded in a team with a majority of people also eligible for the 2019 SEA Games.

On the other hand, Coach Frank Earnhardt lamented the lack of readiness for the said friendly that cost Malaysia a repeat of its dominance the last time out.

"Our players were tired from the holidays when they were called up, so we only have few preparations," he rued.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno