Azkals hope to be better versus Timor Leste

November 14, 2018
James Younghusband
James Younghusband vies for the ball with Singaporean players during their Suzuki Cup football match in Bacolod City.

THE Philippines is looking for a better effort in its next game after opening its AFF Suzuki Cup campaign with a narrow 1-0 Group B victory over Singapore Tuesday at the Pana-ad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.

For Neil Etheridge, the Cardiff City goalkeeper who is taking advantage of the international break, believes the best is yet to come for the Azkals.

“I thought we played very well,” said Etheridge.

“Defensively, we were very strong with this clean sheet. We know we’ve got a lot to work on. Singapore came with a plan to sit back. They were hard to break down in all fairness to them. But all in all, we deserved three points.”

Patrick Reichelt’s close range strike in the 77th minute gave the Philippines its first three points against the four-time champions.

It was also the Azkals’ first win under new coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, who praised the Singaporeans who gave them everything to handle.

“We’re happy we got the three points, but it was a difficult game,” said Eriksson. “Singapore was playing direct and they were very difficult to defend. We made some changes and we showed good fighting spirit.”

The Philippines will travel to Kuala Lumpur today for this Saturday’s duel with Timor Leste, which remained without a point following a 1-3 loss to Indonesia in Jakarta Tuesday.

“We know we’re not the finished article yet,” said the 28-year-old Etheridge. “We play Timor (Leste) on Saturday. The important thing is we got three points on the board and we’re able to put pressure on the rest of the teams.”

The competition also marks Phil Younghusband’s 100th international appearance for the Azkals.