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Azkals suffer a frustrating night in Bahrain



Coming from a great performance against North Korea against Pyongyang, the Philippines (Azkals) endured a tough away game against Bahrain. Nothing for the Azkals went well with their passes going astray and their defense committing multiple errors during the game. Bahrain eventually won 2-0 after a great showing in the second half.

This loss was a major blow in the AFC Asian Cup 2019/2018 World Cup Qualifying campaign of the Azkals as this leaves them with seven points in four games with Uzbekistan having nine points and a game in hand.

Azkals coach Thomas Dooley preferred a 4-4-2 formation for this match. Neil Etheridge retained his place in goal with Amani Aguinaldo and Jerry Lucena as the center-backs in front of him. Stephan Palla and Martin Steuble played as full-backs. Kevin Ingreso and Manny Ott manned central-midfield while Patrick Reichelt and Daisuke Sato played as wingers. Stephan Schrock and captain Phil Younghusband were the two strikers for the Azkals.

Younghusband gave the Azkals a good start to the match in the first half, forcing Bahrain’s goalkeeper to make a save less than two minutes in. A few minutes later, Schrock made a shot that went wide of the home team’s goal. Sato was then forced to make a dangerous tackle inside the Azkals’ penalty box after a mistake from Aguinaldo.

For the home side, Bahrain didn’t really test Etheridge as much as they wanted to. Bahrain wasn’t able to make most of their set-pieces with Etheridge and his defenders vigilant at every corner taken. A free kick for the Bahrainis outside the box didn’t threaten Etheridge as his wall did its job. The one moment that the Azkals’ high line was breached was in the 37th minute only for the Bahraini to squander his shot badly. The first half ended 0-0.

The second half was a much different story for Bahrain as they scored two quick goals in succession against the Azkals. Younghusband had a great chance to score early in the second half but the Bahrain keeper made a good save. Afterwards, Abdul Latif scored first for Bahrain (53rd minute) due to defensive errors inside the penalty box with Adnan Husain adding another (60th minute) via a free kick conceded by Misagh Bahadoran.

The goals were coming as the Azkals’ defense was shakier after the interval. At 2-0 down to Bahrain, the Azkals did everything to break through the Bahrain defense to no avail. Iain Ramsay and Bahadoran were brought into the pitch in the 58th minute for Palla and Steuble but the former two just didn’t change the game for the Azkals. Paul Mulders replaced Ingreso in the 82nd minute but the game was lost by then.

The Azkals just weren’t able to impose themselves in this game with fatigue setting in early during the match.

Up next for the Azkals is a home game against Yemen on November 12, 2015 in the Rizal Memorial Stadium. The last encounter between both teams was a 0-2 away win for the Azkals in Doha. Azkals captain Younghusband will not be allowed to take part in that fixture as he incurred a yellow card for a frustration foul.


Lorenzo's a frustrated author who knows a thing or two about Football and Basketball. Went all green from Ortigas to Taft. Supports Liverpool FC, FC Bayern Munich and the Alaska Aces

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