Philippine Azkals Street Dogs Win-over Singapore Lions 2--0 after Decades

Phil Younghusband rejoices after scoring the Azkals' second goal against the Singapore Lions. Photo: ABS-CBN

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For several decades, the Philippines experienced a losing spell against Singapore Lions in football match.

But a pair of goals changed it all for the Azkals on Friday night (September 7, 2012) as the Filipinos outclassed the Singapore Lions...

Emelio "Chieffy" Caligdong fired the opening salvo for the Philippines in the 8th minute.

Chieffy Caligdong scored an early goal to propel the Philippine Azkals to a breakthrough 2-0 win over Singapore in Friday night's friendly match at Jurong West Stadium.

After receiving a pass from Stephan Schroeck, Caligdong eluded two defenders during a counterattack in the eighth minute with a side step move before booting the ball that bounced once before landing on the net for the opening score that rocked a huge Filipino contingent watching the match in the Lion City.

In the second half, it was Phil Younghusband's turn to stun the Singaporeans.

Phil Younghusband added an insurance goal in the 48th minute to secure the country's first win over Singapore since a 2-0 decision on June 12, 1972 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

It was the 14th international goal for Caligdong and the first since scoring two in the Azkals' 2-0 win over Macau in last year's Long Teng Cup in Taiwan.

Behind Caligdong, the Azkals rebounded from a disappointing scoreless draw against Cambodia in Phnom Penh when they blew plenty of chances to boot one home in the second half.

The Azkals also witnessed the first appearance of Fil-German Stephan Schrock since a scoreless draw against Malaysia in June. Schrock has been busy with his club in the German Bundesliga.

Schroeck was eventually chosen as the man of the match for creating scoring chances for the Azkals. Schroeck created another chance for Younghusband, who fired a shot with his left foot for the Philippines' 2nd goal against Singapore in the 48th minute.

Pumped up by the victory, the Filipino booters will try to end their three-leg friendly in style when they travel to Vientiane to face Laos Today (September 10, 2012).

The Singaporean Lions' closest attempt scoring was Fazrul Nawaz's shot in the 34th minute that was disallowed by officials for offside.

There was also a near goal for Singapore in the 43rd minute when Filipino keeper Neil Etheridge's fumble nearly resulted to an own goal.

The Azkals' plays against the Lions were much better than the former's performance against Cambodia.

The Cambodians held the higher-ranked Azkals to a scoreless draw last Wednesday.

Singapore also lacked ferocity in offense with the absence of their injured veteran marksman Aleksandar Duric.

Upon arriving back home, the Azkals then focus on their campaign in the Philippine Football Peace Cup against Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

All scheduled friendlies are part of the team's build-up for the AFF Suzuki Cup in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Philippines had never beaten Singapore since 1991. The Lions blanked the Azkals, 2-0, in their match last year.

Azkals Destiny Today  in Cambodia without Neil Etheridge, Denis Wolf, Paul Mulders

The Philippine Azkals go up against lighweight Laos in the final stop of their three-nation ASEAN tour tonight in Vientiane's National Stadium, their confidence boosted by their recent 2-0 victory over long-time tormentor Singapore.

"Even though it's only a friendly and at the end of the day, it doesn't really mean that much, it's good for our confidence and team morale. After that game, our confidence should be sky-high," said Fil-British defender Rob Gier, who also serves as the team's scout.

Gier, however, cautioned fans against expecting the Azkals to just steamroll their lower-ranked oppositions.

"It's going to be a totally different game. We're not at that stage wherein we beat Singapore and then we're already expected to go and thump Laos, five, six, seven-nil. It doesn't happen like that," he said.

The Azkals will face the Laotians without three players who starred in their win over Singapore – Phil and James Younghusband and Jerry Lucena. The Younghusbands were excused from the game on the occasion of their mother's first death anniversary while Lucena left due to a commitment with Danish Superliga side Esbjerg fB.

"Unfortunately, we will miss the game against Laos but this is an important day for our family and we have spoken with management and they understand," said James.

The brothers assured their continuing commitment to the team.  "We remain fully committed to the national team and look forward to rejoining them in other preparations for the Suzuki Cup late this year," said Phil, one of the goal-scorers against Singapore.

The Azkals, though, will still parade Fil-German Stephan Schrock, whose highly efficient performance at midfield carried the Pinoys past the Lions.

"We have to say that Schrock is in a totally different level, playing in the first division Bundesliga. In recent years, we've never seen a player like Schrock playing for the country," said Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta.

Neil Etheridge, Denis Wolf, Paul Mulders will also be around for the game, the third and last friendly in the Azkals' three-nation ASEAN tour. The Azkals earlier played Cambodia to a goal-less draw  in Phnom Penh before nipping Singapore.

"We'll be happy with any kind of result. If we go through these three games without conceding a goal, I'll be happy," said Gier.

Abs-CBN News, Inquirer, Manila Bulletin and philSTAR

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