Yemenis stun Azkals with last-minute goal
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - November 12, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The bad luck of Friday the 13th came a day early for the Philippine Azkals as the Pinoy booters suffered an excruciating 0-1 defeat at the hands of erstwhile winless Yemen Thursday night before a stunned home crowd at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

After two close attempts that got thwarted at the goal line, the Azkals failed to stop sub Ahmed Al Sarori from slamming it to the back of the net in the 83rd, allowing the unheralded Yemenis to do what many thought was unthinkable and escape with the famous result.

The Azkals fell to their second consecutive loss and remained stuck with seven points, the disastrous outcome effectively pulling the plug on their bid to reach the next round of the qualifiers with two games to spare in their Group H schedule.

The Yemenis, who train in Qatar due to armed conflict back home, grabbed the maximum points for the first time after falling in their first five matches, including a 0-2 loss to Phl last June.

“Obviously, we’re all not happy with the result. We talked about that before the game, that we can’t lose this game, we have to win it,” said coach Thomas Dooley. “It was difficult in the half, we didn’t play the way we wanted, we played too deep.”

The Azkals did create chances in the game, especially in the second half.

The home crowd in the 6,478 people in attendance erupted in cheers 10 minutes after the restart as Jerry Lucena launched a header off a free kick that they thought went in. It was stopped by Yemen goal-keeper Mohammed Ebrahim Ali Ayash so close to the line, though.

Another close call came 11 minutes later, with the Azkals firing a shot during a scramble in goal line but couldn’t really get it through. Supporters felt it clearly crossed the line and should have been counted.

Then Al Sorari delivered the dagger to the Pinoys’ heart, curling past two defenders to send it past Roland Muller and set the stage for Yemen’s breakthrough victory.

The Azkals will wrap up their assignments in March against Uzbekistan in Tashkent and North Korea at home before officially bowing out of the 2018 Russia World Cup.

ACIRC AHMED AL SARORI AZKALS GROUP H JERRY LUCENA MOHAMMED EBRAHIM ALI AYASH PHILIPPINE AZKALS RIZAL MEMORIAL STADIUM ROLAND MULLER RUSSIA WORLD CUP TASHKENT AND NORTH KOREA
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