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Iraq deals PMNFT late heartbreak to start Tom Saintfiet era

Patrick Reichelt tries to find Jarvey Gayoso off a counterattack while trying to keep it away from Ibrahim Al-Kabaawi. PFF
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Just when the new era of the Philippine Men's National Football Team looked to be off to a shocker of a start, Mohanad Ali delivered a late surprise to what had been a solid Philippine backline.

Ali scored the marginal goal of Iraq to delight a sold-out crowd at the Basra International Stadium to give the home side a 1-0 win against the team formerly known as the Azkals early Friday (Philippine Time) in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Ali received a long pass despite getting sandwiched by the tough Filipino defense and flicked the ball past a chasing Neil Etheridge for the 84th-minute strike.

Ali's goal dealt the PMNFT a heartbreaker in Tom Saintfiet's head coaching debut.

"I’m not happy with the loss because I hate losing. But I’m very proud of the performance of my team." Saintfiet said.

Both sides will meet again on Tuesday night to finish a home-and-home set at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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