Eduard Sacapaño Stars on Azkals beating Singapore lion Anew, 1-0

Man of the Match. Ed Sacapaño guesses the right way in stopping the penalty of Singapore. (Arni Aclao)

Azkals' Sacapaño wins it for Philippines

CEBU CITY -- Fireworks capped the 1-0 win of the Philippines over Singapore at the packed Cebu City Sports Center Thursday night, but it could simply ushered in what could be a fiery campaign for Ed Sacapaño in the Suzuki Cup.

And he couldn't have picked up a better time. On the day regular starter Neil Etheridge, now playing on loan at Bristol Rovers from Fulham, announced he won't be available for this month's Suzuki Cup, the Ilonggo keeper, relegated to the bench whenever Etheridge, or Roland Muller come in, showed that there might not be any need to worry at all.

Sacapaño stopped a late first half penalty and a free kick in the second half to preserve the Philippines' 1-0 win over Singapore, the Azkals' second straight shutout win over the former Suzuki Cup champions since September.

"The goalkeeper had a good performance," Singapore coach Radjoko Avramovic said in the post match press conference, "The game is more intense than last September."

The Singaporeans looked to get even with the hosts after their 2-0 loss last year, with a couple of early but tentative chances. In the fifth, a free kick hit the wall, while a minute later, Sacapano was forced to his first save from left flank.

Advantage

Sacapano punched out a cross in the 11th, while two minutes in, the Philippines got its first chance from a Chieffy Caligdong free kick but failed to take advantage.

In the 26th, Sacapaño again had to stop a brilliant shot from 30 yards before Rob Gier got one for the keeper as he stripped a Singaporean striker inside the box.

In the 39th, Chris Greatwich had a soft shot hit wide, while a minute later, Caligdong got carded after continuing play despite the whistle from the referee.

After a Denis Wolf miss in injury time, Singapore got its best chance after the Malaysian referee called a penalty. However, Sacapaño rose to the occasion as he guess right to stop the kick.

Coach Michael Weiss brought in Marwin Angeles, Phil and James Younghusband at halftime and the move paid dividends just eight minutes after the change.

Phil attacked from right before connecting with Reichelt, whose initial shot bounced to an open Angeles for the lone goal of the match, sparking a mad celebration from the partisan crowd.

Disallowed goals

Singapore pressed for an equalizer but Juani Guirado and the back four managed to hold them, and when the visitors got a shot, there was Sacapano, who had a diving save in the 53rd.

Wolf also had a couple of chances but his bouncing header sailed high, while another header in the 77th kissed the bar.

In the 87th, Sacapano saved the Philippines again, this time, punching out a curling free kick just outside the box to preserve the win.

Singapore got a goal late in the second half, but the referee waived it off for a foul prior the shot.

Ian Araneta, brought in late for Wolf, appeared to have scored but the goal of the Air Force striker was also waived off.

The match against Singapore was the Philippines finally friendly match before leaving for the Suzuki Cup in Thailand.

The Azkals, which broke into national prominence in their last Suzuki Cup campaign, will be facing host Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar in the group.

Singapore will take on Malaysia, Indonesia and Laos in the other group. (http://is.gd/48tFLg)

Sunstar

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