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Asian Cup stint remains elusive as Azkals settle for draw vs Nepal

MANILA, Philippines – History wasn’t meant to be made Tuesday as the misfiring Philippine Azkals were held to a scoreless draw by nothing-to-lose Nepal in their AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers duel at ANFA Stadium in Kathmandu.

A win away from booking a milestone stint in Asia’s premier competition, the Filipinos furiously went for the marginal goal — and up until the final offensive they were actually in play — but just couldn’t get the job done and settled for the split spoils with Nepal.

With this bungled opportunity, the Pinoy booters must beat Tajikistan in the last day of the Group F group play in March 2018 in Bacolod to secure a spot in Asia’s football showpiece and complete their date with destiny.

As things stand, the Azkals remained on top of Group F with nine points on two wins and three draws but either Yemen or Tajikistan, each with six, can wrest the lead if a victor emerged in their showdown over in Tajikistan last night. Nepal picked up its second point.

Gunning for maximum points, the Azkals pressed forward and managed to conjure six shots throughout.

Carli de Murga and Simone Rota both sent their headers over in early scoring chances as Mike Ott flubbed his own close-range strike off a rebound.

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The Gorkhalis threatened in the final third more in the second half, forcing Neil Etheridge and the Philippine defense to action, too, while keeping the Philippines scoreless on the other end.

Daisuke Sato and Ott nearly punched it through with a pair of late headers but both were cleared by Nepal as the frustration mounted for the visiting side.

The Azkals got once more shot at the fourth minute of injury time as they won a free kick. Etheridge came out of the goal post to do the honors, directed his kick to De Murga, who in turn launched a header that hit the post, capping a frustrating night for the misfiring Filipinos.

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