Profligate finishing saw tournament co-hosts Philippines denied a win against shorthanded Singapore in a 0-0 draw on Saturday night at Philippines Sports Stadium.
The first half in general saw far fewer shots than fouls, with neither team willing to concede much ground. The Azkals’ attacking chances came on the counter more often than not, while Singapore struggled to penetrate into the final third.
Singapore found a chance early as Madhu Mohana worked his way into the penalty area but his pass to Daniel Bennett went wasted.
The Azkals responded soon after, and Stephan Schrock’s long-range free kick in the 16th minute forced a tremendous leaping save by Singapore goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.
The match was thrown into disarray in the 34th minute when Hafiz Sujad was shown a straight red card for a dangerous high kick against Phil Younghusband at midfield. The man advantage gave Philippines a burst of confidence, but they were unable to capitalise before the halftime whistle.
Just two minutes into the second half, a Philippines counterattack saw Hikaru Minegishi’s shot well blocked by the Singapore keeper as the hosts sought to break the deadlock. Their incursions into Singapore’s final third increased in number and duration, but failure to finish allowed the Lions a chance to stay in the match.
A mid-clearance collision in the 73rd minute saw both Sunny and Faritz Abdul Hameed land awkwardly in the penalty area, with the centre back requiring a stretcher to leave the pitch.
Minagishi wasted his chance for glory in the 80th minute when after receiving the ball behind Singapore’s back line he sent his effort high above the crossbar.
With five minutes of stoppage time on the clock, Minegishi was again denied when Sunny blocked his well-aimed header from close range, and boos echoed throughout the ground as the referee blew the final whistle.
The result leaves Thailand atop Group A with three points, with Philippines and Singapore at one apiece and Indonesia with none.