Philippine Azkals bow out fighting
SINGAPORE (2nd UPDATE) - The Philippine Azkals ended their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign with a heartbreaking 0-1 loss to the Singapore Lions in the second leg of their semifinal clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium Wednesday night.
The Azkals put up a gallant effort but the Singaporeans, buoyed by the home crowd, thwarted the Filipinos' attacks.
The Singaporeans frustrated the Azkals' plays by roughing up the Filipinos, particularly Phil Younghusband, early in the game.
Khairul Amri broke the deadlock by scoring the game's lone goal for the hosts in the 19th minute.
Phil Younghusband tried to equalize for the Philippines with a shot off an Angel Guirado pass in the 41st minute but his attempt was deflected.
Minutes later, Patrick Reichelt pounced on a chance through James Younghusband's long pass but the Singaporean keeper quickly rushed out to foil the attack.
The Azkals, who needed to equalize the game to advance, were more urgent in attacking the Lions' goal in the second half.
They were close to scoring a goal in the 59th minute, when Chieffy Caligdong attempted a shot near the box, and in the 77th, when Dennis Cagara fired a cross to Phil.
Both attempts were denied.
It was the second-straight semifinal appearance for the Philippines in the biennial competition.
The Azkals were looking to make history by advancing to the finals. They placed second to Thailand in the group stage.
They engaged Singapore in a goalless draw in the first leg of the semifinals that took place in Manila last Saturday.
The Lions will face in the finals the winner between Malaysia and Thailand in the other semifinal match.
Despite the Azkals’ failure to advance, coach Michael Weiss commended his boys for their brave effort in front of a hostile Singaporean crowd.
“Overall we think it was a good achievement, hopefully we could build on this experience and prepare a stronger team for the [AFC] Challenge Cup,” he said.
“Singapore were very aggressive today… [Singapore coach] Raddy [Avramovic] is a clever coach, who take the best out of his team,” added Weiss.