The Philippine Azkals gave up an early goal and played catch-up the rest of the way but ultimately fell short and bowed to the Singapore Lions, 1-0, in the second leg of their AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal match-up in Jalan Basar Stadium in Singapore.
Khairul Amri found the back of the net in the 19th minute after taking a short free kick pass and unleashing a strike that went through the defense and past a flat-footed Eduard Sacapano. That proved to be the marginal goal as the Azkals failed to find the equalizer that would have sent them to the tournament finals for the first time ever.
Instead, Singapore marches into the finals for the fourth time, where the Lions await the winner of the other semifinal leg between Thailand and Malaysia.
The Lions controlled the tempo for much of the first half before the Azkals started creating chances five minutes before halftime. The Philippines came out more aggressive in the second half with Chieffy Caligdong, Demit Omphroy and Dennis Wolf coming in, but just couldn't get any clear attempt as Singapore's defense held firm.
A 1-1 draw would have sent the Azkals into the finals due to the away goal rule. The two sides played to a goalless draw in the first leg in Manila last December 8.
The Azkals had desperately wanted to make it to the finals and provide an emotional lift to a country reeling from the destruction of Typhoon Pablo and the shock loss of boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. But it wasn't meant to be, although duplicating their semifinal run from two years ago was still an achievement.