Singapore U-19s eye semis
Malaysia's shock defeat by Timorese leaves Cubs with fighting chance
PHILIPPINES U-19 1
(Jeremiah Borlongan 15)
SINGAPORE U-19 2
(Joshua Pereira 17, Haiqal Pashia 23)
They were given an unexpected boost before kick-off, but still had to get the job done themselves.
And the Singapore Under-19 football team did just that, when they beat Philippines U-19 2-1 in their Group A match at the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Championship in Hanoi, Vietnam, yesterday.
The Cubs are now in with a shout of qualifying for the semi-finals for the first time, after Group A rivals Malaysia fell to a shock 3-2 defeat by Timor Leste in an earlier match yesterday.
Singapore were expected to beat Philippines, who had lost three previous matches in which they conceded 11 goals, but they did it the hard way, coming from behind.
Jeremiah Borlongan put the Young Azkals ahead on 15 minutes, with a hopeful shot that cannoned off the crossbar, before bouncing into goal.
The fluke strike served as a wake-up call for Takuya Inoue's charges, who responded just two minutes later.
Midfielder Joshua Pereira, winner of last year's TNP Dollah Kassim Award, broke through the Philippines defence and dinked a cool finish over goalkeeper Michael Asong to level the score.
Six minutes later, winger Haiqal Pashia beat the Filipinos' offside trap and coolly slotted past Asong to put Singapore in front.
While the Cubs threatened to add to their scoreline, mostly through the speedy Haiqal and hardworking centre forward Amiruldin Asraf, they had to be content with the slim margin of victory.
Last night's win was Singapore's first in the tournament. They drew 0-0 with Vietnam last Sunday, and then lost 2-1 to Malaysia on Thursday.
They now play Timor Leste tomorrow in the final group game, knowing they must win and hope Malaysia do not beat Vietnam later on the same day.
Only the top two teams from the two groups progress to the semi-finals.
Singapore have never made the final four of the tournament, which is into its 13th edition.