BOCAUE – Just when it looked like the Philippines would suddenly have a relatively easier path to the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals, Thailand barged in with a big roadblock.
The Thais sneaked in a late goal to outlast Sinagapore, 1-0, and clinch the first semifinal berth from Group A on Tuesday night at the Philippine Sports Stadium.
So instead of the Thais settling for just a point and improving to a total of four, the defending champions tightened their grip on the top spot, pulling away further with six points.
The Azkals, tied in second spot with a point to show, have to win against Indonesia later in the day to improve their chances of advancing to the next round. Only the top two teams from the group will qualify.
The opening match of Day Two seemed headed for a draw, but Thailand had other plans as it struck a minute before stoppage time courtesy of Sarawut Masuk.
Coming in the 63rd minute, the substitute striker headed home a cross from Theerathon Bunmanthan to score the lone goal that mattered.