Azkals face Herculean task vs Lions

Singapore veteran Daniel Bennett believes the Philippine Azkals may have wasted their chance of gaining headway in their AFF Suzuki Cup semis showdown last Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

For allowing them to escape with a scoreless draw, the Azkals, according to the naturalized defender from England, will have to pay dearly for it since a huge crowd - perhaps much bigger than the size that witnessed the first leg - are expected to come and support the Lions when they play at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

In Singapore, football is considered like a religion and the team's star players are being worshipped like rock stars.

While he acknowledged Azkals' toughness defensively, they will be hard pressed to repeat their magical performance in Thailand where it won two successive games against Vietnam and Myanmar.

"We knew it's going to be tough (playing in Manila)," said Bennett. "They are a physical team but I think they know when they come to Singapore, it's going to be tough."

The Lions controlled most of the game as Aleksandar Duric and Shahril Ishak led the team's fluid attack that saw them threaten Azkals' lair several times.

But then again, goalie Ed Sacapano rose to the occasion and so were the team's backline crew.

The Azkals left for Singapore yesterday and will hold practice today.

Tickets were sold on a limited basis to Filipino fans who will seat in one of the gallery sections of the venue.

Jerry Lucena, who missed the last two matches because of his club stint in Denmark, will rejoin the team for the crucial match with the Lions.

Lucena played the first two matches of the group stage held in Bangkok but was recalled by his Danish club Esbjerg after the dramatic 1-0 win over Vietnam on Nov. 27.


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