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Philippines, Maldives settle for draw
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 15 - 06 - 2021

Ali Fasir earned the Maldives a 1-1 draw with the Philippines on Tuesday as Martin Koopman's side bounced back from going behind to Angel Guirado's strike to share the points in their final Group A meeting in the second round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Guirado put the Azkals in front 19 minutes into the game at Sharjah Stadium as the Philippines went looking for their fourth win of the campaign, but Scott Cooper's side was denied all three points by Fasir's effort six minutes later.
The result means the Philippines, who had already secured third place and a guaranteed berth in the final round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup, finish their campaign with 11 points from eight games. The result was enough for the Maldives, who collected seven points, to also qualify for the third round of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifying.
The Maldives had threatened early in the game, Fasir shooting over the bar with two minutes on the clock while Bernd Shipmann was called upon to push Hamzath Mohamed's 11th-minute effort away from the target.
When the Philippines took the lead they did so somewhat against the run of play. Guirado was the first to react as the Maldives defense hesitated after Ali Samooh headed Stephan Schrock's lofted ball into the area toward the Gibraltar-based striker and his bouncing volley easily beat Mohamed Faisal.
That lead, however, was to only last six minutes. Fasir started and finished the move that brought the Maldives' equalizer, receiving a return pass from Mohamed before striding into the area and beating Schipmann with a low shot to the goalkeeper's left.
Schipmann was sacrificed at halftime, to be replaced by Kevin Ray Hansen as coach Cooper made several changes in an attempt to take control of the game in the second half.
The Azkals dominated as a result, with Mark Hartmann heading wide four minutes after the restart and Schrock causing problems for the Maldives defense from his new position on the left.
The United City FC midfielder could have claimed all three points for his side with little over a minute remaining, only to pull his shot across the face of the goal as the points were shared. — Agencies

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