Azkals earn draw against Oman in Doha

Philippines - Azkals vs Oman

The Philippine Azkals, ranked 114th in the world, were able to weather the second half storm thrown at them by Oman (ranked 85th) as both teams end their friendly match with one goal apiece on Saturday evening in Doha Qatar.

In just within the first eight minutes of the proceedings, Oman were able to get themselves ahead. A dangerous set piece called Cardiff City goalkeeper Neil Etheridge into action as he cleared the ball. But the rebound found Raed Saleh, who was at the right place and time as he unleashed an unstoppable shot for the breakthrough.

In the first quarter of an hour, Oman proved to be more threatening on the counter-attack and set-pieces despite the Azkals getting a slight advantage in possession.

Around the 26 the minute of the match, Neil Etheridge produced a top-class save to thwart a great chance by Oman’s Jameel Al Yahmadi off a corner kick.

Two minutes before the half hour mark, Mohsin Al Khaldi continued to add another chance for the Middle Eastern squad as he unleashed a driven attempt from outside the box, but Etheridge was able to gather the ball comfortably.

In the 32nd minute, came the best chance yet for the Azkals as Manny Ott fired inside the penalty box off a one-two but his low shot went straight to the opposing keeper, Ali Al Habsi.

Four minutes later and an equaliser did arrive for the Southeast Asians as a set piece by Manny Ott produced enough threat and precision to track Javier Patino. But although Oman’s Khalid Al Hajri was able to marginally beat the Buriram United striker in making contact with the ball, his attempted clearance came to naught as his header found the back of his own net.

Shortly after, an early substitution for the Azkals was executed as midfielder Kevin Ingreso seemed to have suffered a knock and cannot continue at full strength. He was replaced by IFK Mariehamn’s Amin Nazari.

It became a nervy end to the first half for the Filipinos as Oman mounted up some threatening plays. Eventually, Qatari referee Khamis Al Marri signalled the end of the half with both squads on equal footing.

Five minutes after the restart, Al Mahaijri took his chance for Oman, but the attempt lacked enough power as substitute keeper, Michael Falkesgaard of Bangkok United, was able to collect.

A few moments more and another great chance came for The Reds as Al Khaldi took on a great chance with a potent shot but Falkesgaard was able to punch away the danger.

Just a minute before the hour mark, Falkesgaard was once again called into action producing a top class save to deny Al Hajri’s header from point-blank range.

The second half turned out to be much better for Oman as they were able to pull a sustained siege of the Philippines’ final third as the Southeast Asians were limited to holding fort for most of the spell.

Later in the match the Philippines were able to settle a bit with better possession of the ball as they were able to come up with better linkup play but Scott Cooper’s wards just can’t come up with a clear enough chance to trouble their opponents.

In the 80th minute, finally, Javier Patino was able to have a look as he unleashed a shot from distance. But in the end, the effort was high and wide.

Another great chance came in the way of the Omanis as they were awarded a free-kick in the 82nd minute in a dangerous area after Daisuke Sato was called for a foul. But the Filipino wall was able to do its job and block the shot.

One minute into added time, Oman were presented probably their best chance to seize the winner as Muhsein Alghassani shoots inside the area but Falkesgaard once again proved to be the saviour as he was able to come up with the denial using his head.

It proved to be a nervous end for the Filipinos as the Omanis pushed for the winning goal, but the defensive effort by the Azkals was enough as both teams settled for a draw.

Photo credit: The Azkals Facebook page