The Philippine Azkals wasted their first chance at securing a historic berth to the 2019 Asian Cup after being held to a scoreless draw by Nepal in their Group F third round qualifier match Tuesday at the ANSA Complex in Kathmandu.
Veteran defender Carli de Murga nearly gave the Azkals a dramatic victory when his header off a long free kick by goalkeeper Neil Etheridge from midfield hit the right post, capping off an afternoon of missed opportunities.
De Murga’s miss was one of six scoring attempts the Azkals failed to convert to split a point with the host, but still have control of their destiny with nine points to lead Group F by two over Tajikistan and Yemen.
The Azkals, however, could lose their hold on the top spot if Tajikistan or Yemen win their match last night in Hisor.
Instead of a savoring a victory that would made their Asian Cup dream a reality, the Azkals now face a must-win situation in March when they host Tajikistan in the final qualifying match at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Mike Ott gave the Azkals their best scoring chance when his rebound attempt off a long shot by Curt Dizon bounced straight to the goalkeeper in the middle of the first half.