Last-gasp Mike Ott rescues precious point for Azkals

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Mike Ott popped up with a crucial equaliser to earn Philippines a 1-1 draw with Yemen and keep them firmly on track for a place at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

The Azkals headed into Tuesday’s game – held at the netural venue of Qatar’s Saoud bin Abdulrahman Stadium – looking to preserve their unbeaten record thus far in the third and final round of Asian Cup qualifying.

However, it did not take long for them to find themselves under pressure from a Yemen side looking to get their campaign back on track following consecutive draws.

For the most part of the opening 45, Philippines goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was equal to everything the designated hosts fired his way, although he did have the help of the woodwork in denying Abdullah Al-Sasi four minutes before the break.

Yemen continued to create the better of the chances in the second half and Ahmed Nabil Hazaea was unlucky not to break the deadlock in the 58th minute, hitting the bar after being picked out by Abdulwasea Al-Matari.

Nonetheless, there was to be no denying them five minutes later as their pressure finally paid off.

A dangerous corner resulted in pinball inside the Philippines area and it was Tawfiq Ali who reacted quickest to the loose ball, getting in ahead of Junior Munoz to stab past Etheridge from close range.

While the Azkals did show more endeavour in the attacking third after conceding, it began to look as though they would fail to find a way past a disciplined Yemen outfit as the match entered its closing stages.

But, a minute from time, determined play by Munoz down the right saw him force an opening for Philippines.

The ball broke free to Phil Younghusband who then found Paul Mulders, and the veteran midfielder then played a clever pass to release Ott.

Despite having two defenders closing in on him, the 22-year-old kept his cool and fired past Ebrahim Ayash at the near post to earn his side a share of the spoils.

It was by far, the most memorable display from Thomas Dooley’s charges in recent memory, but the German coach would have been quietly satisfied with the never-say-die attitude they showed.

And, it is this same mentality he will be asking for again on November 14, when a win away to Nepal would be enough to see Philippines qualify for the Asian Cup for the first time in their history.

YEMEN: Ebrahim Ayash, Mohammed Ba Rowis, Mudir Al-Radaei, Mohammed Fuad Omar, Ala Addin Mahdi, Ahmed Saeed Salem, Ahmed Al-Haifi (Akram Hamood Al-Wrafi 83’), Tawfiq Ali (Ahmed Al-Sarori 63’), Abdulwasea Al-Matari, Abdullah Al-Sasi, Ahmed Nabil Hazaea (Mohsen Mohammed Hasan 80’).

PHILIPPINES: Neil Etheridge, Simone Rota (Junior Munoz 63’), Dennis Villanueva, Sean Kane (James Younghusband 80’), Daisuke Sato, Paul Mulders, Kevin Ingreso, Mike Ott, Phil Younghusband, Iain Ramsay (Curt Dizon 77’), Hikaru Minegishi.