Singapore came into their clash against the Philippines on a high as Fandi Ahmad’s charges defeated an insipid Indonesia in their first game.
The Lions started the game on the backfoot as their opponents’ natural attacking display pegged them back. Indeed this Philippines side are a much stronger team with the likes of Cardiff City’s Neil Etheridge and talismanic captain Phillip Younghusband.
Though Singapore was on the backfoot they gradually grew into the game and managed to get a grip on the contest. Irfan Fandi and Safuwan Baharudin had a busy night with their first test coming in the 24th minute when a set-piece delivery caused mayhem in the box, before the ball was cleared from their area.
Significantly, the Lions put up a resolute defence with the central pairing of Irfan and Safuwan leading the way. In the 37th minute captain Hariss Harun had a half chance however his shot went wide.
The first half ended with the scores level and the same narrative continued in the second half. However in the 64th minute Hassan Sunny produced a top notch save to deny Philippines the opening goal as Singapore couldn’t cope with the onslaught.
In the 68th minute it took a brilliant Irfan interception in the penalty box to deny the Azkals once again. By now the signs were telling and in the 74th minute Patrick Reichelt scored the only game of the game. Additionally they nearly added another in the dying stages which again underlined the quality that the Azkals possess.