CEBU CITY - The Philippine Azkals leaned on the defensive prowess of goalkeeper Ed Sacapano and the goal of substitute Marwin Angeles in the 54th minute to defeat the visiting Singapore Lions in their friendly match held Thursday evening at the packed Cebu City Sports Complex here in this city.
Angeles provided the gameís only score as he came into the game along with star siblings, Phil and James Younghusband, at the start of the second half. With the trioís entry, the tempo and the pace of the match shifted to the Azkalsí favor and it didnít take long for it to materialize into a goal.
It came after a cross by Phil Younghusband went wide and was deflected by Lions goalie Jumaat Hyrulnizam straight to the waiting foot of Angeles who forcefully tapped the ball to the goal,which drew a roar from the partisan crowd.
However, as brilliant as the goal was, it was Sacapanoís defense that really shone through especially late in the first half when he frustrated Singaporeís best chance at drawing first blood against the Azkals. Late into injury time, Singapore forward Amri Khairul was fouled by Azkals defender, Jeffrey Christiaens inside the penalty box, leading to a penalty kick by the Lions.
Picked to shoot was midfielder, Shi Jiayi, as the tension rose up a notch inside the stadium. Sacapano though, eased all that away as he guessed right and stopped Jiayiís shot as the ball hit him square in the chest, enabling the Azkals to go to halftime with a scoreless draw.
Sacapano also came up big in the second half as a powerful straight shot attempted by Lions midfielder, Hariis Harun, was deflected up and above the crossbar. Later, he added two more saves to his name off a free kick wherein he tapped the shot attempt of the Lions to the right and recovered his position in time to distract the Lions into shooting the ball wide.
The Azkals tried to pad their lead several times but none more promising than the headers that were attempted by forward Denis Wolf. Wolf first got away and had a clean shot at a header but the ball bounced up and was saved by Hyrulnizam. Then, another chance came on the 82nd minute as Phil Younghusband crossed the ball accurately to Wolf only for the latterís attempt to hit the crossbar.
By: Jonas Panerio
iSTORYAn League of Writers- Sports