Azkals salvage draw against Indonesia to keep Suzuki Cup semis hopes alive
Mizagh Bahadoran opens the scoring for the Azkals in the first half. Jaime Campos

BOCAUE – The Philippines took Indonesia’s best shots, yet still salvaged a 2-2 draw on Tuesday night to keep alive its bid alive of advancing to the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals.

The Azkals gave up an early goal, but canceled it out with a Misagh Bahadoran finish, before erasing another deficit in the second half behind Phil Younghusband to earn the stalemate, their second straight of the tournament.

“We showed tremendous spirit coming back after being down twice,” midfielder Stephan Schrock said after the game in an interview with the TV crew.

The result was still good enough to put the Filipino booters in second spot with two points behind Thailand which has six, although the path to a fourth straight Final Four appearance remains tricky.

The Azkals have a daunting task to pull off an upset against mighty Thailand on Friday to avoid complications book the second and last semifinal ticket in Group A.

The home side, though, can still advance with a draw or loss to the defending champions if Indonesia and Singapore, which are tied in third spot with a point each, settle for a draw in their match.

The Azkals, however, could’ve avoided complicating their chances had they beat the Indonesians, who took the fight to the hosts and were rewarded with two goals, one barely seven minutes into the match courtesy of Fachruddin Aryanto who struck from a set piece play.

After equalizing in the 31st minute when Bahadoran caught a Schrock free kick and slotted it in with a low shot from close range, the Philippines dodged several other bullets before finally succumbing anew to a Boas Salossa goal off the rebound in the 68th minute.

Good thing, Younghusband was there to the rescue with a free-kick conversion nine minutes before second-half injury time.

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"It was an exciting game for the fans, not so for the coaches, I guess," Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said. "But I think two-two is okay. They had a couple chances and better chances than we had, but two-two is the most we can get."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos