May 25, 2024

Philippine men's national football team yields to Iraq, 1-0

Philippine men
The Philippine men's national football team is under new coach Tom Saintfiet. | Photo (c) PFF

The Philippine men's national football team bowed to Iraq early on Friday (Philippine time), conceding a late goal from the host team in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers at the Basra International Stadium.

Simen Lyngbo, Michael Baldisimo, and Osskari Kekkonen got their start along with Christian Rontini, Amani Aguinaldo, Paul Tabinas, Patrick Reichelt, Jarvey Gayoso, and Jesse Curran.

Captain Neil Etheridge was stellar for the Philippines, thwarting Mohanad Ali at the 11th minute. Ali Jasim tried again with a header at the 18th minute. The two squads were still blank by halftime.

Ali found the back of the net at the 63rd minute, but it was ruled offside.

Third time's the charm though for Ali, as Amir Al Ammari sent him a long ball for a goal at the 83rd minute. It was enough to secure the three points for Iraq, spoiling Tom Saintfiet’s debut as Philippines head coach.

The Philippines is now at the bottom of Group F with a single point. The Filipinos will need to provide a better showing in the return leg at the Rizal Memorial Stadium against the same Iraq squad on March 26.

The top two teams in the group will get a direct qualification to the 2027 Asian Cup and the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Meanwhile, the bottom two teams will head to the third round of the Asian Cup qualifiers.