PH Azkals outlast Maldives in World Cup Qualifiers

The PH Azkals escape a tough Maldives squad (Cedelf Tupas/

By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

After coming off a confidence-boosting scoreless draw against the powerhouse Chinese squad a month ago in Panaad Stadium at Bacolod, the Philippine Azkals then carried the momentum from that game to prevail over a pesky Maldives squad, 2-1, in the joint 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifying.

Getting off to a hot start, the Azkals looked to push the tempo right away and controlled the middle field by starting their possessions there instead of their usual flank setups.

They soon began to read bit by bit what Maldives defensive strategies were and that started the Azkals’ barrage.

The Azkals began to continually pressure the Maldives defense and went at them every time, coming in at full speed, attempting to break the tough back-line of the foreigners.

It took 53 minutes for the PH squad to cash in a conversion when Iain Ramsay surveyed the flank area well with ball control precision then rifled a powerful kick that sneaked past the goalkeeper for the first blood.

The PH attack didn’t stop there as they added more pressure every time they approached the Maldives frontline, pressing more action and had solid attempts after the first goal.

16 minutes after the Ramsay goal, Patrick Strauss then cashed in another goal just inside the box to push the lead to a comfortable cushion, 2-0.

Maldives’ Hassan Naiz, however, managed to convert a goal in the stoppage time to spare his team from a scoreless defeat.

With the win, the PH Azkals remain at the third spot behind Syria and China and still have a long way to go in the eliminations.