YEMEN banked on a late strike from Ahmed Al-Saron to end the Philippine Azkals’ faltering bid for a chance to squeeze into the third round in the qualifying match for the 2016 FIFA World Cup.
Al-Sarori scored the dagger in the 82nd minute after the Azkals failed to score a goal despite several attempts before their home crowd at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
The Azkals fell to 2-1-3 win-draw-loss.
Later, team manager Dan Palami said one of the attempted goals by the Azkals should had been counted.
“I thought that the ball was in already in one of those near goals,” said Palami, who nevertheless lauded the Azkals for not showing complacency.
Yemen team coach Amin Al-Sunaini also praised the Azkals for their disciplined play.
“They were disciplined that’s why they had good chances to score,” he said.
The Azkals’ loss boosted the chances of North Korea and Uzbekistan of entering the third round, after the Uzbeks beat North Korea, 3-1, in a simultaneous encounter in Tashkent.
The Philippines stepped up their offense in the last 45 minutes but the Yemenis were able to prevent the Azkals from scoring.
Jerry Lucena attempted a header in the 56th minute that kissed the post had the crowd roaring, but goalkeeper Mohamed Ebrahim Ali Ayasi cleared it off.
In the 66th, minute, the Azkals had another chance when Martin Steuble kicked a shot, but Yemeni defenders Amada, Ahmed, Mohammed Al-Zubairi got in the way moments before the ball was able to touch the back of the net.
“Every time they went inside the box, they were dangerous,” said Azkals coach Thomas Dooley.
The Azkals now eyes an automatic slot in the third round of the AFC Asian Cup.