THE recent results suggest Philippine men’s football team has the odds in its favor against Singapore heading into their Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinal tie kicking off on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, but the Azkals’ team manager is warning his wards about complacency.
The Azkals have had the Singaporeans’ number in the last three months, having beaten their Southeast Asian neighbors, 2-0, in Singapore’s home turf at the Jurong West Stadium last September, before scoring a 1-0 win at the Cebu City Sports Complex last month.
But Azkals team manager Dan Palami insists those wins count for nothing, saying the intensity and atmosphere in friendlies will be nothing compared to the home-and-away series that will determine which team reaches the AFF Cup Final opposite the winner of the other tie between Group A topnotcher Thailand and Malaysia.
“We can’t count a lot on the results of the past. We just have to improve,” Palami said.
Before their last two triumphs, the Azkals have never beaten the Singaporeans over the last four decades. There was one span where the Filipino booters lost 11 matches in a row to the Lions, including a 7-0 thrashing in 1993 in Singapore.
“We should be wary of them,” Palami warned of the three-time Suzuki Cup titlists. “Singapore has always been a strong team with a lot of quality.”
The semifinal pairing was made possible after Singapore rallied from two goals down to stun Laos, 4-3, on Saturday night that vaulted the Lions past Malaysia and into the top spot in Group B.