PHL falls short to Vietnam, 3-2, in World Cup qualifier

The Philippines lost to Vietnam in Group F of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers on June 6, 2024 at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi, Vietnam. (PFF-PMNFT Media)

The Philippine men’s national football team showed a strong performance in the first 63 minutes of their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Vietnam but ultimately fell short, losing 3-2 to the two-time ASEAN champions in a Group F fixture on Thursday in Hanoi.

Veteran forward Patrick Reichelt, a 12-year national team stalwart, put the Philippines ahead in the 62nd minute with a counterattacking goal.

Reichelt’s 16th international goal ties him for second place on the all-time national scoring list with Philippine football legend Chieffy Caligdong.

The first half saw promising plays from newcomers Zico Bailey, Dylan de Muynck, and vice-captain Reichelt, who repeatedly threatened the Vietnamese defense.

“I think in the first half Vietnam was pushing in their ball possession but we were probably more dangerous in some counterattacks,” said Philippine head coach Tom Saintfiet, reflecting on the team’s initial performance.

However, a miscommunication in the Philippines’ defense allowed an unmarked Nguyen Tienh Linh to equalize in the 65th minute. Filipino goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, anticipating an offside call, committed to Nguyen Van Toan on the left, who assisted Linh’s goal.

Nguyen Linh scored again in the 76th minute with a header from a Phan Tan Tuai cross, putting Vietnam ahead. The Philippines responded in the 89th minute with Kevin Ingreso’s header from a Jesper Nyholm assist, leveling the score.

Vietnam secured the victory in stoppage time, with substitute Pham Tuan Hai scoring off Etheridge’s save in the 95th minute.

“A draw would have been the best result for both sides. I am very disappointed in the game but naturally, Vietnam is a good team. I am also very satisfied with the performance of my team and I think the boys deserve a draw. But Vietnam won, and we have to learn from this,” Saintfiet commented post-match.

Saintfiet assured that the team would “do our best” in the final group match against Indonesia on June 11 in Jakarta. He also plans to recruit new players and schedule friendly matches in the later months for the 2024 ASEAN Mitsubishi Cup.

Philippine Football Federation President John Gutierrez praised the team’s quality recruits and the five newcomers’ performances. Despite the loss, the Philippines remains in contention for the 2027 Asian Cup, with the third round of qualification beginning in March 2025.

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