BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Despite having travelled to the Philippines looking for a win, Malaysia could only hold Philippines to a 0-0 draw in their international friendly match on Wednesday, held at the Cebu Sports Complex.
Thomas Dooley's men went into the match as preparation for their Asian Cup qualification opener against Nepal next week, while Datuk Ong Kim Swee's charges were looking to win the match, their first encounter in 2017.
Malaysia head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee picked Khairul Azhan Khalid as goalkeeper, with the centre-back pairing of Ronny Harun and Shahrom Kalam. Syazwan Zainon was picked ahead of Matthew Davies in the right back position, while Khair Jones was on the left. Amri Yahyah, Baddrol Bakhtiar and Shahrol Saad were in midfield, while the attack was led by Safee Sali, Hazwan Bakri and Syazwan Zainon.
The homeside dominated possession from the start, and could have gone in front in the 18th minute. Iain Ramsay was released by a through pass, and tried curling the ball past Azhan. However his shot was deflected out by a defender, fortunately for the visitors.
The Harimau Malaysia midfield department's failure to hold their own against the Azkals in the first half meant the visitors were reduced to containing the home side's attacks, without helping their own attackers create any penetrations.
In the 34th minute Amani Aguinaldo got his head to a corner kick and was able to direct the ball towards the far post, but his header ultimately went wide.
Despite Philippines' domination, they could not capitalise on their possession, and the first half ended goalless.
Kim Swee's men started the second half a little more positively, and were able to penetrate Philippines' final third.
However that was not enough, and Kim Swee made three substitutions in quick succession right after the clock struck the hour mark. Safee who did not contribute much to the team was replaced with winger Hadin Azman, while fullback Syazwan was replaced by Davies. Meanwhile Ronny who was injured was replaced by Khairul Helmi Johari.
But the 74th-minute introduction of Veenod Subramaniam for Baddrol signalled Kim Swee's intention to keep it tight in the back and shut up shop with a draw.
Both sides had a number of half chances towards the end of the match, but their failure to make them count meant the match ended 0-0, their fourth consecutive goalless draw, and fifth consecutive draw, against each other.
Philippines : Etheridge (GK), Munoz (Steuble 76'), Ramsay (Minegishi 63'), Manuel Ott, Bahadoran (Mike Ott 20'), Philip Younghusband (C) (Arboleda 69'), Sato (Christiaens 67'), Aguinaldo, Villaneuva, Ingreso, Patino (James Younghusband 69').
Malaysia : Azhan (GK) (Hafizul 88'), Rizal, Shahrom, Ronny (Helmi 57'), Khair, Shahrul, Amri (C) (Akram 74'), Baddrol (Veenod 74'), Syazwan (Davies 65'), Hazwan, Safee (Hadin 63').