"Too cautious" Azkals battle batlle Singapore to scoreless draw
InterAKTV · Saturday
The Philippines and Singapore provided plenty of excitement but zero scoring for a boisterous Rizal Memorial Football Stadium crowd, battling to a nil-nil result Saturday in the first leg of their ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinal series Saturday.
As anticipated, the Azkals and the Lions were embroiled in a highly-physical encounter, with both teams dishing out fouls and referees allowing plenty of leeway for the players.
Singapore started strong, dominating most of the first half by stretching the Azkals back four by sending three attackers up the field. But the Lions could not convert on numerous opportunities, with the Azkals surviving on luck and confident goalkeeping by Eduard Sacapaño.
The Philippines looked particularly energized after the break, turning the tables on the Singaporeans, with Patrick Reichelt leading the attack from the left flank. The Azkals had plenty of opportunities, including a nice curl by Paul Mulders on a free kick that was just inches wide at the 71st minute.
The energized Manila crowd, which was witnessing the first Suzuki Cup final four match on Philippines soil, began chanting the name of Azkals hero Chieffy Caligdong late in the second half. The veteran winger finally came on at the 76th minute and had a couple of chances, but poor control did not give him enough daylight to repeat his heroics earlier in the tournament against Vietnam.
Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss rued the missed chances for his team.
“We have to be more positive, optimistic. We’re a little bit too cautious, intimidated,” he said.
“We’ve played a good tournament so far, we’ve got to take the next step to reach the finals.”
The result wasn’t all bad for the Azkals, who kept a clean sheet for the third straight match. By not conceding an away goal, the Philippines can win the series with at least a 1-1 result in the second leg of the tie set in Singapore on December 12.