|By Kenneth Tan
Saturday night was a perfect opportunity for the Philippines to put a foot in the AFF Suzuki Cup final 2012.
A first-ever match in the biennial regional tournament to be held in their capital Manila and adding to the fact they attained couple of wins over Singapore in successive months leading to the tournament meant that they went into the semi-final first leg riding on optimism.
However the Azkals failed to produce what they did in the final two matches, struggling to impose themselves in the game as they finished with a drab goalless draw.
Despite not conceding the crucial away goal, the fact that they were unable to carry any considerable advantage to Singapore was a bittersweet feeling for their hotshot Phil Younghusband.
"Of course we would have loved to have won the game especially being in front of our own fans," the 25-year-old told Goal.com Singapore.
"I think both individually and as a team, we're capable of a lot better. We were a little nervous and afraid to get on the ball due to not wanting to make any mistakes. The second half was a little better as we showed more confidence on the ball.
"Personally, I found it difficult to get on the ball and influence the game. However I give a lot of credit to Singapore as they played very well."
The English-born forward admitted his side has to step up a notch on Wednesday in order to achieve the dream of reaching their first-ever AFF Suzuki Cup final.
"We come here knowing that we'll have to play better if we want to go through to the final," he said bluntly.
"The most important thing about a first leg is to give yourself the best possible chance in the second, and we're definitely still in the tie. It's a positive that we were able to keep a clean sheet and concede no away goals.
"With the capability of the players we have, we're definitely going into this game with confidence. And if we get the away goal, it means Singapore have no choice but to go and win the game."