Latest Stories

Azkals’ dream Suzuki Cup run ends


Azkals’ run ends. Photo from AFF Suzuki Cup website.

SINGAPORE—Facing an opponent it had already defeated twice in the last three months and held scoreless in 270 minutes, the Philippines’ chances of crashing the AFF Suzuki Cup finals for the first time at the expense of Singapore couldn’t have been any better.

And perhaps this was the reason why the 0-1 loss to the three-time champion Lions in the second leg Wednesday night hurt the most out of their three semifinal stints in major tournaments the last two years.

“The odds were a little bit in our favor, that’s why it’s hard to take,” said stand-in skipper Rob Gier, who was also part of the side that reached the semifinals of the Suzuki Cup in 2010 and the AFC Challenge Cup early this year.

“The fact that we thought at least we can get to the final is what really makes it painful.”

Striker Phil Younghusband shared the same sentiment.

“I think this feels worse with all the expectation, the team we had, the players we had, we felt we could have gone further and that’s disappointing than the two other ones,” he said.

While Younghusband scored the goal that helped lift the Azkals past Myanmar, Gier anchored a resolute backline that laid the foundation for another stirring run in the region’s most prestigious tournament, which they also brought to the Philippines for the first time with a second straight semifinal appearance.

The Azkals conceded only three goals in five matches, including a run of 292 minutes without yielding a goal.

The Azkals’ defense was finally unlocked in the 19th minute by striker Khairul Amri, who has a penchant of rising on the big stage, having scored in the 2004 and 2007 finals when Singapore won the title.

The goal came off a quick and short free kick taken on the left and Amri, with nobody closing him down, fired the ball past a number of bodies inside the box, leaving Eduard Sacapano stranded on his spot.

The Azkals piled up the pressure in the second half with the introduction of captain Chieffy Caligdong. But the Lions refused to waver and almost often caught the Azkals napping on the counterattack.

And for once, the team that had been known to do well in the second half failed to conjure its magic.

Azkals coach Michael Weiss said Singapore, which is gunning for a record four AFF titles, deserved to win, although he called the goal that Amri scored a “gift.”

“Their goal was a gift. In the last 10 days we’ve been talking about set-pieces, then we give away such a simple set-piece,” said Weiss, whose squad repeated their famous win over Vietnam in the group stage in Bangkok. “It was a very nice shot, but it shouldn’t have happened.”

Weiss added: “They had that extra bit of caution and coolness and we didn’t produce too many chances.”

Younghusband said Singapore stifled the Azkals similar to the way the Philippines had also shut down its opponents in the tournament.

“I think they did an ‘Azkals’ on us,” he said. “We had much of the possession in the second half. There were so many bodies. It was so difficult to find space and create opportunities as teams found difficulty doing it against us playing that way.”

Azkals manager Dan Palami said he remains proud of what the Azkals had achieved in the tournament.

“It’s been a very tough journey,” he said. “It’s hard that it had to end here but … they went down fighting.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: AFF Suzuki Cup , Azkals , Football

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RS2YCQ7ASQNNGGOZNZQTDCIFUI elman

    Wala na bang Malaysia-Philippines game? Ang 3rd place ay important pa rin ng PH kasi ang highest place the Azkals have achieved so far ay ang 4th.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


  • Malang the croc must regain strength before return to swamp, says mayor
  • Palace: Lacson’s version of Napoles testimony to be evaluated
  • Scientists eye iceberg bigger than Guam
  • Drilon: I’m not on Napoles’ list
  • Sonar finds 1888 San Francisco shipwreck
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Marketplace