The Philippine Azkals failed to make a return trip to the AFC Asian Cup next year after falling short in the third round of the qualifiers at the MFF Football Centre in Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia.
The Filipino booters needed to become one of the best five runners-up across six brackets but unfortunately ended up at sixth following a 4-0 beating at the hands of Palestine last Tuesday, June 14 in Group B.
The Azkals, who finished their qualifying campaign with a 1-1-1 win-loss-draw record and yielded four points, still had the chance early Tuesday but fate wasn't on their side as they needed a team or two to lose in other brackets.
Kyrgyzstan of Group F led the runners-up with seven points while Indonesia of Group A, Malaysia of Group E, Thailand of Group C, and Hong Kong of Group D all earned six points to clinch their respective slots in the AFC Asian Cup.
Indonesia and Malaysia winning proved to be the end of the road for the Philippines.
Group leaders Jordan (A), Palestine (B), Uzbekistan (C), India (D), Bahrain (E), and Tajikistan (F) also claimed their rightful spots for the final tournament.
Completing the 24-team cast in the AFC Asian Cup are Japan, Syria, Qatar, South Korea, Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, Iraq, Oman, Vietnam, and Lebanon.
It was quite a heartbreaker for the Azkals as they couldn't replicate the same feat since making their historic debut in the AFC Asian Cup back in 2019.