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Philippines draw with Nepal, blow chance to make Asian Cup

Philippines draw with Nepal, blow chance to make Asian Cup
From ESPN - November 14, 2017

Philippines blew a great chance to seal their place at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup as they laboured to a 0-0 draw in Nepal.

The Azkals will now have to avoid defeat at home to Tajikistan in next March's final Group F fixture after Tajikistan and Yemen also played out a goalless draw. Thomas Dooley's side remain two points clear at the top of the group and favourites to progress to their first-ever Asian Cup finals.

However, a draw at a country 60 places below them in the FIFA rankings is a major disappointment and ensures a tense wait until they have the chance to clinch their berth in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2019.

The Azkals were the better side throughout, but Nepal battled gamely and occasionally troubled them on the break.

The visitors came close in the 20th minute when Daisuke Sato's cross from the left was headed just wide by Carli de Murga.

Simone Rota headed over from a great position, and Mike Ott missed a fine chance to open the scoring. But the Thailand-based midfielder shot tamely into the keeper's arms.

Just after the hour mark, Rota's long range effort was beaten out, and Phil Younghusband put the rebound wide.

There was an opportunity for the home crowd to bid a fond farewell to Nepal's former Chelsea trialist Anil Gurung, who came on as a substitute in the final 10 minutes for his last international appearance.

But it was the Philippines who came agonisingly close to the opener when Sato's header was cleared off the line in the 84th minute. And there was more drama in added time when de Murga got on the end of Neil Etheridge's free kick but his header came back off the post.

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