The Philippine Azkals claimed a 3-0 victory over Guam in the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, but the Filipinos' emotions after the final whistle revealed frustration with their performance on Friday night.
After a bright start punctuated by veteran Angel Guirado's goal in the 12th minute, the Philippine Azkals failed to make the immediate pressure count under the hot and humid weather of Sharjah.
The Azkals saw their ruthlessness sucked out of their play, while the Matao grew into the match and had a few chances of their own.
Ultimately, the Philippines did win out thanks to a pair of insurance goals in the second half. It was a positive result with good takeaways, but, as captain Stephan Schrock's post-match reaction showed, things could have been much better.
1. Michael Kempter adds a new dimension on the left wing
Michael Kempter played just 20 odd minutes against China in his debut for the Azkals before he was floored with a blow to his face. The impact left Kempter with a broken nose and he was forced to leave the pitch.
The Azkals were robbed of the full Kempter experience against China last Tuesday, but his bounce back showing against Guam showed why he is highly rated by team management.
Kempter showed up donning a black mask to protect his nose and proceeded to terrorize the Matao backline.
Operating as a bombing left wing back, Kempter showed the willingness to drive the ball forward and become a key creator from the wide areas. The 26-year-old also attended to his defensive duties and shut down most of the Guam incursions on the left flank.
Perhaps what was most impressive was Kempter's ability to assert his influence from an initially defensive position on the wing throughout the majority of the match.
Kempter left the game with a man of the match performance under his belt, and Filipino fans should be giddy with excitement to see it replicated more times in the future.
2. Oliver Bias and Stephan Schrock could be a potent midfield pairing
Nineteen-year old Oliver Bias could also argue he could have come home with man of the match honors after his performance against Guam.
Bias provided the assist from the left for the opener and was deployed in different parts of the pitch after substitutions were made.
Bias' activity level, the physical attributes, and style of play is reminiscent of team captain Stephan Schrock's game.
In fact, during the broadcast former Azkals captain Aly Borromeo, who was playing the role of analyst, remarked they move so similarly he wasn't sure who was on the ball between the two at times.
That isn't to say that Bias is already at Schrock's level. The young Azkal still has a lot of developing to do to be able to stamp his authority on the game like the Philippine captain.
Given that this is only their second competitive match on the same side, it is clear that the pair have yet to develop a telepathic understanding of each other's game.
But with time and experience with each other on the pitch, this duo could be a headache for many opposing midfields for years to come.
3. Stephan Schrock's tirade after the final whistle shows everyone where the Azkals want to be
Winning 3-0 in a game that you're expected to win should be a happy occasion. But you would think otherwise if you watched Schrock gather the entire team after the final whistle to give them a piece of his mind.
Schrock was visibly incensed at the Azkals, letting them know in no small terms how he felt about their performance.
Former Azkals captain Aly Borromeo couldn't help but crack a smile seeing Schrock talk to the team.
"I loved that, I loved that right away," Borromeo said. "You don't let the guys just cruise, take off their cleats, and when the game is done I've done my job."
The former captain also lauded Schrock for issuing a strong reminder of the standard they want to strive for within the national squad.
"It's nice to see a captain like Schrocky taking care of that moment," he added. "We won three-zero, but hell are you happy? Maybe not."
While the final score is desirable, within the locker room there is an understanding the Azkals expect more of themselves.
With one more game left in the international window, the Philippine Azkals have the opportunity to finally meet their expectations of themselves and end this round of the joint qualifiers on a high.
The Azkals will take on the Maldives in their final match at 10 p.m. on Tuesday (One Sports, One Sports+).