By Cedelf Tupas
BOCAUE, Bulacan – Phil Younghusband scored a late yet precious goal as the Philippines salvaged a 2-2 draw against a spirited Indonesian side to keep its semifinal bid alive in the AFF Suzuki Cup at Philippine Sports Stadium.
The Azkals skipper curled home a free kick from 25 yards out in the 81st minute to cancel out Boas Salossa’s strike early in the second half and give the hosts a glimmer of hope to survive from Group A.
It was the second time in the match that the Azkals equalized after Misagh Bahadoran also put them on level terms with an opportunistic strike off a Stephan Schrock free kick in the 31st minute.
Fachruddin Aryanto gave Indonesia the lead with a header from close range off a free kick from Stefano Lilipaly in the seventh minute.
The draw puts the Azkals in second spot with two points heading into the final match day, but the result also keeps Indonesia and Singapore alive for that last semifinal spot from the group. The hosts were held to a scoreless draw by Singapore last Saturday.
The Philippines face Thailand at PSS on Friday, while Indonesia and Singapore clash at Rizal Memorial Stadium. Both games will kick off simultaneously at 8 p.m.
A win by the Azkals over the Thais – a feat that has never been done in the 20-year history of the tournament – should end complications and secure them a place in the next round for the fourth straight edition of the competition.
But a draw against the Thais means the winner of the Indonesia-Singapore clash will make the semifinals. A draw for both games will send the Azkals to the next round.