The Philippines suffered a 2-0 home loss to Vietnam on Thursday to kick off its second-round campaign on the wrong foot in the joint Fifa World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Vietnam drew first blood in the 16th minute with a merker by Nguyen Van Toan to the disappointment of the 10,378 fans who came to support the home side.
The Azkals actually had a chance to score the first goal but Patrick Reichelt was called for an offside on a shot that went in just 12 minutes into the match.
The Azkals were the aggressor in the second half, but failed to seize opportunities including a golden chance by Atletico Madrid U-19 player Santiago Rublico, whose shot inside the box went wide right in the 77th.
Nguyen Dinh Bac scored the insurance goal in the 94th minute, seconds before the final whistle.
Following the defeat, the Philippine men’s football team continues its World Cup/Asian Cup qualification campaign against Indonesia on Tuesday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Nguyen scored despite being surrounded by the Philippines defense, slotting in a left-footed shot to the delight of a good-sized Vietnamese crowd that made the trip to support the team’s World Cup bid.
Azkals team captain and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge said they generally played well despite conceding the two goals.
“We played very well. We had a game plan. We know that Vietnam is a very good team. For majority of the game, we kept them at bay and we had chances,” said the Premier League veteran.
“Of course, we conceded in the last minute but I’m proud of the team that we went for it in the end,” he added. “I think we played well. We had chances to score goals, getting a draw, or maybe a win.”