MANILA, Philippines – It will be crucial for the Philippine Azkals to keep the Singapore Lions scoreless when they begin their Suzuki Cup home-and-away semifinals series at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Based on tournament rules, the home-and-away format means that if the two teams involved have the same number of goals over the 2 legs, the that has more away goals will qualify for the next stage.
Which is why Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss said that the Philippine side will prioritize defense for the home-game.
"They (Singapore) know how to handle the pressure, they are very experienced and very mature. They have a coach who has won this tournament twice, I am sure he knows exactly what to do with his team," Weiss earlier said.
The German coach added that it will good for the team to forget the 2 victories they had against Singapore in their previous friendlies.
Even Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic warned the Azkals from making the mistake of underestimating the Lions, who won the title in 1998 and 2007.
“I know the Philippines beat Singapore in the last two times we played them, but those were exhibition matches, and the Philippines should know now that we have won this tournament twice and we know what it takes to win,” said Avramovic.
The Azkals and Lions will fly to Singapore for the second leg of the semifinals on December 12.
If both teams score the number of goals at home and away, they will be given two 15-minutes periods of extra time at the end of the second leg.
Should both the Philippines and Singapore score the same number of goals during the extra time, the Azkals will be at an advantage because of the away goals rule.