Azkals suffer loss against Lions in AFF Suzuki Cup opener

Amir Nazari looks to create a chance while Gabriel Quak is defending him. PFF

By Gil Moriones

MANILA —A 10-minute goal fest from the 61st-70th minute marks was the highlight of how the game ended between the Philippine Azkals and the Singapore Lions, as the tournament host nation prevailed in a commanding 2-1 full-time score in the continuation of the AFF Suzuki Cup at the Singapore National Stadium, Wednesday night. 

Lions' team captain Hariss Harun opened the floodgate to break the goalless halftime deadlock after he possessed the ball after being freed from Martin Steuble to easily mount their 1-0 lead in the 61st minute thanks to Safuwan Baharudin's flicker pass from the corner kick. 

However, two minutes after the first blood, the Azkals' defense was quickly dismantled as Zulqarnaen Suzliman passed Daisuke Sato and came with speed within the right flank to locate Faris Ramli with a cross that he easily booted in to double the Singaporeans' lead in the 63rd minute.

After their several attempts to score a goal, Amir Nazari critically headed the ball into the goal mouth, leaving Hassan Sunny no chance to save it, to score his first international goal for the Azkals via a corner kick from Kevin Ingreso to cut the lead down to one in the 69th minute.

The Azkals played the aggressors the rest of the way, even earning a bunch of corners along the way, but Singapore's defense held on.

With this commanding performance under the tutelage of Tatsuma Yoshida, the Lions already devoured six points to top Group A of the competition followed by the Thailand War Elephants. 

The Azkals will try to claim three points to keep their fourth semifinal appearance alive in their match against Timor Leste this Saturday.

With a report from Ivan Saldajeno.

Follow him on Twitter: @gilpuyatstation