GOALKEEPER Neil Etheridge and defender Amani Aguinaldo played great defense as the Philippine Azkals men’s national football team held North Korea to a scoreless draw yesterday in their FIFA World Cup Qualifying showdown at the Kim Il-Sung Stadium in Pyongyang.
The Azkals fended off repeated attacks from the host team. Etheridge made numerous saves and Aguinaldo accounted for several crucial interceptions.
With a 50,000-strong crowd cheering North Korea on, top booter Pak Kwang Ryong came up empty-handed on his attacks inside the box.
“It was a very difficult game. NoKor had tall, physical players. With all the long balls, it was difficult,” said coach Thomas Dooley in a message on twitter.
It was North Korea’s first draw after four matches.
North Korea remained on top of the standings in Group H, while the Azkals climbed to second with their 2-1-1 win-draw-loss record.
The Azkals moved ahead of Uzbekistan in the standings and they improved their chance of making it to the third round.
Etheridge came up with seven big saves for the Azkals. Aguinaldo, who was given a yellow card in the third 13th, came in the way of at least five attacks by the North Korean side.
The Philippines will meet the Bahrain national team on Oct. 13 at the Bahrain National Stadium in Riffa.
Before their game against North Korea, the Azkals lost to Uzbekistan, 1-5, in Bulacan.
On the other hand, North Korea won over Bahrain, 1-0, last Sept. 3.