Their backs against the wall, the Philippine Azkals came through and shocked Vietnam, 1-0, to boost their semifinal hopes in the AFF Suzuki Cup in Bangkok, Thailand.
Veteran Chieffy Caligdong provided the match's only goal, a strike from the left in the 85th minute following a good lob from Angel Guirado that gave the Philippines the close win and a full three points in Group A. It was one of only a handful of clear shots for the Azkals in the second half, but a good shot was all Caligdong needed to find the back of the net as he unleashed the half-volley strike into the far post with his more powerful left foot, leaving the Vietnamese keeper with little chance of stopping it.
Vietnam nearly equalized just two minutes later, but Tan Tai's shot from close range hit the crossbar and bounced outside the goal line before being cleared.
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Caligdong came in as a substitute in the 75th minute at a time when Vietnam was clearly controlling the tempo and threatening to score several times. His entry almost immediately revitalized the anemic Philippine offense as the Azkals finally started humming after being outplayed for much of the second half.
It was a good bounce-back win for the Azkals after they absorbed a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Thailand last Sunday. They round up their campaign on Friday against dangerous Myanmar, which held Vietnam to a 1-1 draw. A win over Myanmar will ensure a second straight semifinal appearance for the Azkals and finally award them with that home match that was taken away from them in 2010.
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Vietnam now has the daunting task of beating host Thailand on Friday to keep its semis hopes alive. The result also brought back memories of the Azkals' huge 2-0 upset of the Vietnamese in the 2010 tournament, a result that launched Azkals-mania.