THE Philippine men’s national football team stayed at third place in Group A of the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers after bowing to group leader Syria, 1-0, in an away match on Tuesday night in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Played more spirited in the second half of the match, the Philippine Azkals, however, could not overcome the early deficit they had and bowed to the Syrians anew in the tournament.

The loss, albeit better than the 5-2 defeat it was handed by Syria in an earlier match, kept the Philippines (2-1-2) at third place in the race in the grouping with seven points.

On top is Syria (5-0-0) with 15 points, followed by China (2-1-1) with seven points. Fourth running is Maldives (2-0-3) with six points while Guam (0-0-5) is already eliminated.

In the ongoing qualifiers the Azkals are hoping to finish on top of the grouping, or at a least have one of the best four runner-up records among the eight groups, to advance to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers.

They next play in March 2020 against Guam in the resumption of qualifying play. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo