Syria sweeps Azkals in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2nd round opener
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines Azkals opened the 2nd round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers with a 1-0 loss to Syria on Tuesday, November 19, at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Syria remains on top of Group A with a perfect 5-0-0 record and 15 points while the Phiilippines drops to 2-1-2 and 7 points.
However, the Azkals prevented Syria from delivering another masterclass reminiscent of the 5-2 drubbing they absorbed in their opening game at Pana-ad Park and Stadium.
Syria opened the scoreline as Osama Omari fired a cross that found Ward Alslamh, who struck a close-range shot straight to the roof of the net in the 23rd minute.
The Philippines managed to keep the score at bay as captain Stephan Schrock controlled the midfield, but the Azkals could not break through Syria's defense.
Syria started piling pressure on the Azkals that led to its first corner in the 40th minute. After conceding the opening goal, Neil Etheridge came up for back-to-back saves against Syria's lethal forwards.
The Philippines capped the first half with a pair of set pieces as Angel Guirado won a free kick while dribbling the ball down to the attacking third and Iain Ramsay took the Azkals' third corner kick.
Despite failing to convert both efforts, the Azkals started the second half as Schrock fired a shot from out of the box in the 51st minute that was barely deflected by Syrian keeper Ibrahim Alma.
The Azkals continued to threaten Syria's last line of defense as Schrock came up for another long range shot that went straight to Ibrahim in the 71st minute.
Two minutes later, Mark Hartmann fired straight towards the Syrian goalie thanks to an assist by Mike Ott. – Rappler.com