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Azkals, Maldives settle for draw to end WCQ stint

Stephan Schrock looks to get past Haisham Hassan. PFF/The Azkals
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Philippine Azkals finished their stint in the second round of the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers with a 1-1 draw against Maldives early Wednesday (Philippine Time) at the Sharjah Stadium in the United Arab Emirates.

The Azkals struck first in the 12th minute when Angel Guirado sent a volley from just outside the box past Mohamed Faisal and into the goal.

Maldives, however, equalized in the 25th minute when Ali Fasir got past the Azkals' backline and shot the ball to the right side of the goal which Bernd Schipmann could not reach.

That turned out to be Maldives' brightest moment of the match as the team could not find its second goal the rest of the way, especially in the second half, where the Azkals somehow dominated both ends of the pitch.

However, the Azkals also failed to complete the job, and both teams had to settle for the stalemate.

The result hardly mattered for the Azkals as they will finish third in Group A regardless of what happens, thus securing a place in the third round of the ACQ.

With 11 points, the Azkals set the record for the most points they gathered in the second round of the WCQ.

On the other hand, the draw derailed the chances of Maldives, which finished its own stint in fourth place with seven points, to directly enter the ACQ third round.

Following a 1-1 draw between Afghanistan, another fourth placed team looking to enter the third round outright, and India in Group E action in Doha, Maldives will now have to enter the playoff round for a chance to qualify in the third round of the ACQ.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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