AFF SUZUKI CUP: Philippines 1-2 Singapore

SINGAPORE – A late uprising was not enough as the Azkals fell short, 2-1, to host Singapore in their AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 opener on Wednesday night at the National Stadium here.

Amin Nazari scored on his debut, slicing the deficit with a header off a corner from Kevin Ingreso in the 69th minute, but the Azkals couldn’t find a late equalizer as Singapore hung on to improve to six points from two matches.

The Azkals were left undone by quickfire goals from Harris Harun and Faris Ramli just after the hour mark.

The two goals came after a period of strong play from the Filipinos, who actually needed a string of good saves from Kevin Ray Hansen to keep it 0-0 at the break.

The Azkals have not lost to the Lions since the second leg of the semifinals in 2012.

Their last meeting in Bacolod City ended in a 1-0 victory with Patrick Reichelt scoring the only goal of the match.
But with Singapore buoyed by its 3-0 win over Myanmar last Sunday, the Azkals started the match on the backfoot before settling in late in the first half.

The Azkals started the second half in control with captain Stephan Schrock pulling the strings at midfield, but some loose marking on a corner handed Singapore the advantage with captain Harrun bundling home from close range in the 61st minute.

Ramli doubled the advantage two minutes later, finishing off a counter attack at the far post.

The Azkals got a glimmer of hope with Nazari’s header, before coach Stewart Hall shuffled his men. Angel Guirado entered the match, while Mike Ott and Oskari Kekkonen joined the fray.

Stephan Schrock was pulled into a wide position on the left, sending a handful of threatening crosses that troubled Singapore up until the end. The hosts hung on for victory, leaving the Azkals with no recourse but to win remaining matches against Timor Leste on Saturday, Thailand on Tuesday and Myanmar on Dec. 18 to stand a chance of making the knockout phase.