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Azkals, Indonesia settle for draw in thrilling World Cup, Asian Cup joint qualifier


MANILA, Philippines, November 22 ------ The Philippine Azkals fell short of notching a win in their first two matches in the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Indonesia at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.


Patrick Reichelt broke the deadlock at the 23’ mark after completing a swift counter-attack for the Azkals. Kevin Ingreso was credited for the assist as he was the one who released Reichelt on the break as the latter finished the play by slotting in a left-footed shot from close range. At the 70th minute, Saddil Ramdani equalized for the visitors as his powerful left-footed shot inside the penalty box froze Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. Following their latest result, the Azkals now register their first points in the qualifying tournament as they improve to a draw and a loss after two matches.


The Azkals, though, remain at third place in Group F with 1 point and a -2 goal difference, just slightly ahead of Indonesia, which also has a point, but has a worse goal difference at -4. Philippines head coach Hans Michael Weiss made 2 changes in his starting line-up from the previous game as he opted to give Ingreso and Carli de Murga a start and dropped Justin Baas and Christian Rontini to the bench. Another notable change in the team was the absence of 37-year-old midfielder Stephan Schröck, who missed out on the match day squad as he had a white bandage wrapped around his thigh during the warm-up session.


The Azkals were lively at the beginning of the match as they had three consecutive scoring chances to break the deadlock inside the first 15 minutes. Reichelt had the first chance at the 12th minute, but his shot off a counter-attack went wide, while Mike Ott’s aggressiveness a minute later almost led to an own goal, but the Indonesia goalkeeper tipped his defender’s clearance away just in time. Teenaged Santiago Rublico, who usually plays at right-back, started the match again on the right wing of a 4-4-2 formation and had an open shot inside the penalty box, but was not able to convert.


OJ Porteria had a couple of chances to double the Azkals’ advantage before the halftime whistle, but unfortunately for him and the team, his attempts just couldn’t find the back of the net. Backed by the home fans, the Azkals continued to attack relentlessly in the second half, but they couldn’t prevent Indonesia from scoring on the other end. Justin Baas and Pocholo Bugas were brought in by Weiss after conceding a goal, but they weren’t able to help the starters regain the lead as Indonesia frustrated the Azkals to a 1-1 draw.


The next set of matches for the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers will be in March 2024. World No. 138 Philippines will first play 68th-ranked Iraq away from home, then host the same opponent at the Rizal Memorial Stadium a few days later in a back-to-back assignment for both squads.


Source: rappler.com

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