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Reichelt gives Sven-Göran Eriksson winning debut as Azkals squeak past Singapore

Patrick Reichelt was the hometown hero the Philippines needed as the Ceres Negros man got the winner against Singapore. AFF Suzuki Cup
By Kevin Estrada

MANILA--The Philippines' quest for the AFF Suzuki Cup went on a strong start with their very first home win, after grinding out a close 1-0 win over four-time champions Singapore Tuesday evening in Panaad.

Sven-Göran Eriksson nearly walked through the tight-rope on to start his tenure with the Azkals until Patrick Reichelt saved the Swede's blushes with a late second half strike on Phil Younghusband's record-setting day of playing his century of matches.

It was a lethargic first half for both sides, most notably for the hosts as they were frustrated by the compact defence of Singapore, with memories of that goalless stalemate in Bocaue fresh on their minds.

Eriksson made two interesting changes just before and right after half-time, with James Younghusband providing the strength and power that the visitors did not like when he forced Hassan Sunny into a flying stop in the 63rd minute.

Just as Sunny thought of his invincibility, the Azkals finally got his goal breached in the 78th minute, when the skipper picked out the Ceres Negros man in a tightly guarded penalty box while he made no mistake in hitting his effort from seven yards out.

Debutante John-Patrick Strauss nearly put the match to bed a minute before full time when he hit his left-footed shot wide to the right.

Phil Younghusband got the best gift on his 100th appearance as the Philippines pipped Singapore. AFF Suzuki Cup
The majority of the 4,327 supporters inside the hallowed Negrense ground was in ovation after the younger Younghusband, who debuted for the Philippines on the same pitch a dozen years ago, gave way to Curt Dizon to cap off his century of Azkals caps.

Philippines: Etheridge (GK), De Murga, Mike Ott (James YH 46'), Woodland (Sato 36'), Manny Ott, Phil YH (C) (Dizon 90+6'), Schröck, Steuble, Mulders, Reichelt, Strauss

Singapore: Hassan Sunny (GK), Hamzah, Ramli (Ishak 66') (Mahler 71'), Hanapi, Yacob, Harun (C), Irfan Fandi (Khairul Amri 86'), Ilkhsan Fandi, Baharudin, Quak

attendance: 4,327

Follow him on Twitter: @KevinLEstrada