MANILA (19 Nov 2016) – Hosts Philippines threw everything they had at their rivals but ten-man Singapore managed to hang for a precious draw in the second Group A match on the opening day of the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Philippine Sports Stadium here this evening.
The game was just picking up steam when Muhammad Hafiz Abu Sujad was sent off after a clash with skipper Phillip Younghusband in the 34th minute.
The game changed for Singapore as they struggled to defend and somewhere in the process tried to score as the home side went on a rampage in search of the goal. The Filipinos kept up the pressure throughout but were let down by some poor finishing.
The draw means that Thailand, which had beaten Indonesia in an earlier match today, top the group while Philippines and Singapore are joint second with a point each. Philippines will face a spirited Indonesian side in a must-win match for both sides on Tuesday evening.
Thailand and Singapore, the two most successful teams in the history of this tournament with four titles each, will battle for crucial points to improve their chances of making the last four. A win for Thailand will see them book a place in the semis while full points for Singapore will keep them well in the running.
Speaking at the post match press conference, Thomas Dooley expressed his disappointment at failing to col collect full points. “Before the game someone mentioned parking the bus in front of goal. I am disappointed we did not win, we had the chances but did not score. To win, you have to score.”
One of the stunning misses Dooley was referring to was when Hikaru Minegishi, after being neatly set-up by Stephan Schrock, ballooned his shot in front of goal. The coach also said he was frustrated with what he alleged was time wasting by their rivals.
Singapore coach V. Sundramoothy commended his players for battling all the way to the end. The loss of a player made it even tougher in an already difficult group.
“Obviously, with ten players it’s difficult to press and try to win, you will leave holes as you go for goals,” he said.