With less than a month left before their 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup opener, the Philippine Men’s National Football Team fought out a 1-1 draw against Oman at the Thani Bin Jassim Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
This was the first meeting between both countries since the qualifiers for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Oman was the favorite for this friendly, as it is ranked 8th in the world, and it took the Omanis only nine minutes of play to break the deadlock.
From an Omani corner, Filipino goalkeeper Neil Etheridge’s clearance only went as far as midfielder Raed Saleh, who shot past the Cardiff City goalkeeper to hand his side the lead. It was the worst possible start for the Azkals, but they forced their luck afterwards to rescue a goal.
Manny Ott signalled the Filipinos’ intent to recover from the early setback when he forced a routine stop from Oman goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi. Ott then took a free kick which forward Khalid Al Hajri accidentally put into his own goal in the 39th minute.
Oman sought a winner in the second half but the Philippine defense – anchored by substitute goalkeeper Michael Falkesgaard – held firm. Falkesgaard denied Ahmed Al Mahaijri and Al Hajri with fine stops.
Just when the Azkals looked to have secured a credible draw, late drama ensued. Omani player Muhsein Alghassani found space to shoot and perhaps should save clinched the winner in stoppage time, only for Falkesgaard to perform another great save to earn the Filipinos a draw.
Philippines XI: Etheridge (GK), Palla, Silva, Woodland, Ott Ma., Dizon, Younghusband P. (C), Ingreso, Reichelt, Patino, Steuble.
Oman XI: Al Habsi (GK) (C), Al Musallami, Saleh, Al Hajri, Al Khaldi, Al Mahaijri, Breki, Yahmadi, Al Busaidi, Alnahar, Al Saadi.
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