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    'Edsa' stands ground: Keeper a bright spot as Azkals keep hopes alive

    Dec 8, 2012

    AFTER finding the back of the net in all its group-stage games in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup in Bangkok, the Philippine men’s football team’s scoring streak ended on Saturday night as the Azkals settled for a scoreless draw against Singapore in the first leg of the semifinals at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

    But while their offense sputtered, their defense remained constant.

    Left-back Dennis Cagara, center-backs Juani Guirado and Rob Gier, and right-back Carli de Murga take the credit for that, but goalkeeper Eduard Sacapaño has also left his indelible mark as the Azkals kept opponents goalless for a third straight game - and three-and-a-half counting the second half of a 0-2 loss to Thailand.

    This time, Sacapano, who is starting only because England-based 'keeper Neil Etheridge was unavailable, was able to thwart numerous threats by naturalized Singaporean Aleksandar Duric and skipper Shahril Ishak.

    “Yun talaga trabaho ko. Sana sa second leg makabawi kami at maka-score. Focused pa rin ako sa goal. Sana ma-clean sheet ko pa rin,” the Bago City native told after the game.

    “Fantastic,” Weiss said of Sacapaño during the post-game conference. “Three clean sheets. And with his body language, the way he gets the high balls is very good. No complaint at all.”

    What makes his forays more amazing is that he is able to stand out in a team made up mostly of players with foreign blood. Now the remaining homegrown Filipino in the starting lineup, Sacapaño is proud of the distinction.

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    “Sobrang honored ako kasi meron pa ring pure Pinoy sa starting eleven kaya trabaho lang.”

    He used to share it with Chieffy Caligdong, but the Barotac Neuvo-born skipper has been relegated to the bench since the Azkals’ 1-0 win over Vietnam in the group stage.

    But Sacapano was quick to play down the honor.

    “Nagro-rotation naman si coach at mas epektibo si Chieffy off the bench. Yung kalaban niya pagod na, siya fresh pa. hindi lang nag-materialize ngayon,” Sacapaño said.

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