OJ Porteria felt that the Azkals put up a valiant effort against Vietnam in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup AFC qualification tournament Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Despite losing 0-2 to the Golden Star Warriors, the 29-year-old former Ceres Negros standout believed that the Azkals were not too far behind.
Moreover, the game could have been different if certain breaks had come their way.
“I’m proud of the boys for going toe-to-toe with the best team in Southeast Asia,” he said.
“It was one-nil basically throughout the whole game and we tried to get a goal and that made us susceptible to their second goal. But like I said, I’m proud of everyone and I think if we were to put our chances away, it would have been a completely different game. It wasn’t like we didn’t have chances. We had chances,” he furthered.
“I think for the next game, as long as we put our chances away, we can hurt teams. But other than that, I’m proud of the boys. Amazing atmosphere here in Rizal so thank you for everyone.”
Porteria could have given the Philippines a dream start to the contest but his attempt in the first half was easily caught by Vietnam’s goalkeeper.
It became a recurring theme for the Azkals as the likes of Stephan Schrock, Manuel Ott, Bienvenido Marañon, and Santiago Rublico all missed their chances to score in the second half.
If those chances went in, who knows? The Azkals might have gotten all three points to kickstart their World Cup qualification campaign.
“I think, obviously, we were one-nil down. We didn’t want just to sit back. We wanted to pressure them, give them something to think about, and we definitely were trying to score the goals. I think that was a reason why we were more attacking as well,” said Porteria.
Up next for the Philippines is a game against Indonesia this Tuesday at Rizal Memorial.
The Indonesians themselves started their campaign on a dismal note, as they lost 5-1 to Iraq in Basra.
Both teams will be eager to get back on track and hopefully, it will be the home side that takes all three points.
“I hope that the fans stick with us and I hope to see 10,000 fans again and babawi tayo,” said Porteria.
“I think, definitely, we have something to prove and this result definitely hurts us but we have a chance to redeem ourselves in the next game and that’s what we’re going to do.”