History will have to wait as Azkals, Nepal battle to scoreless draw
History will have to wait. (FILE PHOTO)
The Philippine Azkals needed just one more win to make history by clinching a spot in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time, but home team Nepal had other ideas, holding the Philippines to a scoreless draw, Tuesday afternoon at the ANFA Complex in Latipur, Nepal.
Close chances were the story for both teams, as the Azkals and Nepal had a number of golden opportunities to get on the board, but just couldn't find the back of the net.
Hoping to finally secure a spot in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup with a game to spare, the Azkals ramped up the intensity in the second half, pushing the offense, but still couldn't buy a goal.
Playing without anything to lose, already-eliminated Nepal gave the Azkals some fits in the second half, including a late strike that was deflected by Junior Muñoz.
The Azkals came very close in the 83rd minute mark, with headers from Daisuke Sato and Mike Ott ulitmately getting denied by the Nepalese defense.
With four minutes of injury time added, the Azkals again had their closest chance to claim history with just seconds remaining, when a Neil Etheridge free kick led to another header attempt that was denied by the right post.
Sato tried to keep the ball in play, but it was ultimately cleared by Nepal.
The Azkals figure in their third straight draw, but remain unbeaten and at the top of Group F with nine points in five matches played.
The Pinoy side will have to wait until March of next year for another opportunity to clinch history, when they close out the third round of qualification against Tajikistan at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod.