MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Philippine Azkals rode on a flawless performance by goalkeeper Eduard Sacapaño to beat the Singapore Lions in their friendly game in Cebu on Thursday night.
Marwin Angeles scored the match's lone goal for the Azkals' 1-0 win against the Lions.
Angeles slid in a goal in the 54th minute after receiving a short pass from Patrick Reichelt off a long cross by Phil Younghusband.
But it was Sacapano's fortitude on goal against Singapore's attacks that wowed the Filipino crowd at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
The 32-year-old Ilonggo, whose penalty save against Chinese Taipei helped the Azkals win the Peace Cup last September, first blocked a long range shot from the Lions in the 27th minute.
Sacapano also thwarted Shi Jiayi’s penalty kick with a superb diving save to keep the Singaporeans goalless in the first half.
In the second half, the Lions brought in their best player Alexander Duric to boost their offensive front.
However, this proved to be useless against the Filipino's determined defense.
In the 73rd minute, Philippine Army goalkeeper again denied the Lions by foiling a free kick that sailed over the Azkals’ defensive wall.
Sacapano was named as the man of the match.
“Natuwa naman ako sa depensa ko, nandyan pa rin si Robert (Gier) at si Juani Guirado,” he said after the game. “Laking tulong ng dalawa sa gitna sa akin, lalo akong nagkumpiyansa dahil sa dalawang iyon.”
Sacapano could be the Azkals' first-choice shotstopper in the 2012 Suzuki Cup, depending on the availability of his fellow keepers Roland Mueller and Neil Etheridge.
"Big thing actually for me na bago kami lumaro sa Suzuki cup, at least nakapag-laro ako against Singapore."
When asked if it was the best performance in his career, Sacapano only smiled and said, "Maybe."
Singapore was trying to avenge its 2-0 loss to the Filipinos in a previous friendly last September.
But despite gaining more ball possession against the Azkals, the Lions could not convert their attempts against the Filipinos' back line.
Singapore tallied a total of 13 shots on target against the Philippines’ 6. The Filipinos only had 9 attempts at the goal, while the Singaporeans registered 13 attempts.
The Lions also had more goal possession with 51% against the Azkals’ 49%.
The win has given the Filipino booters confidence before they plunge into the 2012 Suzuki Cup that kicks off on November 24.