The away loss to Bahrain on Tuesday night at Bahrain National Stadium in Riffa has left the Philippine Azkals with a mountain to climb in Group H of Asian Zone World Cup qualifying.
But skipper Phil Younghusband remains optimistic that the Azkals, who are third with seven points from five games, can still finish second in the group and contend for a spot in the next round of qualifying.
North Korea is on top with 13 points followed by Uzbekistan with nine from four matches. The top team advances to the third round along with four best second placers.
“It will be difficult to get the No. 2 spot. I think realistically we can look at the No. 3 and the next qualifying round of the Asian Cup,” Younghusband said. “But we will never know. If we win the rest of our games, we will have a chance. I think it’s possible.”
Younghusband endured a frustrating outing in the Azkals’ 0-2 loss to the Bahrainis, missing a couple of good chances before getting booked for the second straight game late in the match, which meant missing the game against Yemen on Nov. 12 due to suspension.
The Azkals will still play Uzbekistan on March 24 in Tashkent before facing North Korea at home five days later.