THE Philippine Azkals left Bahrain yesterday for Kuwait and the opening leg of their Asian World Cup qualifiers on Saturday at the 20,000-capacity Mohammad Al Hamad Stadium in the commercial district of Hawally.
The Filipinos will go into the match smarting from two defeats inflicted by Bahrain’s Under-23 Olympic team, including a 1-3 loss in front of a capacity crowd at the Muharraq Club Stadium in Manama on Monday night, according to the Bahrain-based Gulf Daily News reported posted on its website yesterday.
In a related development, Philippine Football Federation chief Mariano Araneta Jr. said yesterday he was still hopeful the Asian Football Confederation would lift the suspension slapped on team captain and key defender Aly Borromeo and Fil-German midfielder Stefan Schrock, who were banned one game each for earning two yellow cards in the first-round series against Sri Lanka.
"We sent another formal letter to the AFC today appealing the suspensions of Borromeo and Schrock," Araneta said.
The International Football Federation, the sport’s world governing body, had earlier referred a PFF appeal on the issue back to the AFC, which had ruled the penalties of both players be carried into the next round.
Araneta added that Fil-Dutch midfielder Paul Mulders might still be able to play in Kuwait if his injured left foot heals on time.
"We hope Mulders would still be able to play since his presence will help greatly in our match against Kuwait in the away leg," Araneta said.
Although more comfortable as an attacking midfielder, Mulders was reverted to left back by national coach Michael Weiss in the series against Sri Lanka, but is expected to be back at his old post with Fil-Icelander Ray Jonsson.
As in their previous 1-2 loss to the Bahraini booters last Saturday, diminutive co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong scored the lone goal for the Azkals, a header that caught Bahraini goalie Ashraf Al Sebaie off guard, on a cross by Manuel Ott near the end of the first half, the report said.