Lone goal separates Azkals' away game defeat vs Bahrain

by Drew Malihan

ARAD, Bahrain - The Philippine Men's National Football Team suffered a close defeat in the 2023 calendar year as they conceded a sole early goal against 86th-ranked Bahrain inside Al Muharraq Stadium Tuesday.

A header from Manama Club midfielder Ibrahim Al-Khattal spelled the difference between the two sides, scoring from a corner from Al-Riffa's Mohamed Marhoon that went past Neil Etheridge's guard.

The Michael Weiss-led Azkals has some chances in both halves but the Bahrain team's defense worked their way in the back third, shutting down opportunities from OJ Porteria and Bienvenido Marañón.

Both teams played defense in the second half but the Bahrainis has some more opportunities and attempts at punishing the Filipino backline but was repeatedly denied, while the shorthanded Azkals, playing with only five substitutes on the bench were unable to convert any opportunities for the rest of the match.

It will be the national team's last friendly before heading on to the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Second Round, where they will host against cross-country rivals and currently top Southeast Asian team Vietnam on November 16 in Manila before heading to Indonesia five days later for an away game against the Garudas.

This is also the host team's last friendly before heading on to play in the qualifiers against fellow Arab nations Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

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