MANILA Philippines (July 29, 2011) - Despite being buoyed up by supportive hometown crowd at the Rizal Memorial Stadium last night, the Philippine Azkals lost to Kuwait Al-Azraq, 1-2, In the second match of the 2nd Round of their World Cup 2014 Asian Qualifying series.
The Philippine Azkals drew first blood when Stephan Schrock nailed a goal from 20 yards, ending the first half up 1-0. But the celebratory mood of the Filipinos would soon fade.
In the second half, the Kuwaitis proved too poised and too experienced for the Azkals as they scored 2 goals - one from Yousef Naser in the 62nd minute and another one from Waleed Jumah in the 86th minute - to wind up the match 2-1 and dashing Azkals' World Cup dream at least for now.
Underscoring their strength and proving that they were not 10-time Gulf Cup of Nations champions for nothing, the Kuwaitis were in fact down to 10 players starting in the 58th when Fahad Al Ebrahim was sent off for a hard tackle on Chieffy Caligdong. But this did not matter to the Kuwaitis - nor the wet field due to on and off drizzles and the cheering hometown crowd that were thought to provide advantage to the Azkals.
With this game's result added to the 3-0 sweep by the Kuwaitis in their home court last Saturday, Kuwait wins on 5-1 aggregate score to advance to 3rd round where Japan, Australia, South Korea, Bahrain and North Korea have been seeded, along with 14 other winners of Round 2.
Kuwait Coach Goran Tufegdzic sees his team going all the way through the World Cup this year.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss is still a picture of optimism. “This game and the previous game show how bitter and hard football can be. I think the team can take this defeat. We had to take it fairly and also acknowledge that we went up against a tough opponent,” he said.