Football

FIFA: Azkals loss to Laos invalid

InterAKTV file photo/Markku Seguerra

The Philippine national men’s football team’s heated match against Laos Monday night turned out to be not an official international friendly match after all, which means that the Azkals’ 2-1 loss would have no effect on their world rankings.

In an email to InterAKTV, FIFA confirmed that it withdrew consideration for the game after learning that referees who officiated the game were not recognized by the world governing body.

“Indeed, not all four referees were from FIFA which is a must for an official A-match,” FIFA wrote in an email Tuesday night.

At the 66th minute, the match turned ugly after players from both sides engaged in a heated encounter, delaying the match for almost five minutes. One Laos player was caught in camera punching Azkals sub Misagh Bahadoran, but the referees curiously slapped a red card on the Filipino midfielder. Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge also got collared by three Laos players, who all appeared to not receive any sanctions.

Despite the length of delay the incident caused, referees also only added three minutes of extra time in the match, dimming the comeback chances for the Azkals after defender Rob Gier scored in the 92nd minute.

Earlier, Azkals manager Dan Palami apologized for the heated affair, where the Azkals got the wrong end of the exchange. “We truly regret and apologize for this incident,” he said.

The Laos game was the last leg of the Azkals’ three-nation Southeast Asian tour. They settled for a draw against Cambodia last Wednesday and scored a 2-0 victory over Singapore last Friday. The matches are part of their preparations for the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November, where they look to surpass their semifinal finish in the same tournament two years ago.

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