MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Azkals pulled off an upset to remember, holding on to a 2-1 edge over Bahrain in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match on Thursday, June 11 at Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulucan, Philippines.
The Azkals broke the deadlock in the 51st minute when Misagh Bahadoran scored the 1-0 goal to the delight of a reported 6,000 fans rooting on the home team. That mark didn’t stand for long as Filipino-Spanish striker Javier Patiño tacked on another score off a Manny Ott free kick in the 60th minute to put the Middle Eastern side against the wall.
Fielding in prodigal sons Neil Etheridge and Stephan Schrock in the starting XI, as well as team captain Rob Gier, Phil Younghusband, Stephan Palla, Iain Ramsay, Ott, Daisuke Sato, Jerry Lucena and Martin Steuble, the Philippines displayed patient passing to set up 4 shots on target for the 137th ranked Azkals, compared to only 2 for the 106th ranked Bahrain.
Bahrain gave the Philippines a scare in injury time when Abdulwahab Al Malood punched in a goal in the 90th minute before time expired.
The Philippines lost by the same score the last time the two nations met this past March in Bahrain, when Ott was the lone Azkal to break through the goal line.
Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
This is only the second time the Philippines has won since joining World Cup qualifying matches, with the first being the Philippines' 4-0 win over Sri Lanka on July 3, 2011.
The Philippines will have little time to celebrate as they’re set to leave tomorrow, June 12 to face the 165th ranked Yemen in its next Group H match on June 16 in Doha, Qatar.
After that, the Philippines will face North Korea in Pyongyang on October 8, then face Bahrain in a rematch on their home turf on October 13. - with reports from Ignacio Dee/Rappler.com