Lions take boos in their stride
Hosts upset over defensive tactics of Sundram's men after Hafiz sees red
REPORTING FROM MANILA
The chorus of boos probably continued to ring in their heads throughout their hour-long journey back to the hotel from the Philippine Sports Stadium last night.
But the Lions probably would not have cared, after they earned a point with the 0-0 draw in their opening Group A tie in the AFF Suzuki Cup.
After all, they had survived an hour-long onslaught against the hosts playing with a man down after Hafiz Abu Sujad's red card in the 34th minute.
Following the dismissal, V Sundramoorthy's charges battened down the hatches, defended for their lives, and, every now and then, took a breather by going down and receiving treatment.
The home side were not happy with what they felt were time wasting tactics, and jeers rained down from the stands for most of the final 10 minutes of the game, every time a Singapore player hit the deck.
They continued heckling the visitors at the end of the match.
Philippines coach Thomas Dooley was equally critical of the Lions.
"Obviously I'm disappointed we could not score against 10 men," said the American.
"It was obvious that they tried to park the bus in front of goal after the red card. I know it's part of the game but I don't like it.
"Usually in a match, only 65 minutes (of the 90) are playing, but this time I'm not even sure if we played 45.
"You could see they wasted time, taking a long time to take corners and so on."
Sundram and his charges were hardly bothered with the criticism.
Skipper Hariss Harun said: "It doesn't matter to us. We came here to do a job, and get the win.
"Coach sets us up to our strengths, and we thought, even after the red card, we might have nicked something at a set-piece.
"To me, it doesn't matter how the crowd reacted, or what anyone has to say."
Singapore started well last night, with defender Daniel Bennett sending a shot wide from inside the penalty box after just three minutes.
The home side grew into the game, with influential attacker Stephan Schrock pulling the strings.
They were handed the initiative when Syrian referee Masoud Naifa produced a straight red card for midfielder Hafiz, whose high boot appeared to catch Philippines captain Phil Younghusband in the chest.
Dooley introduced half-Japanese midfielder Hikaru Minegishi, who was named the best player in the recently concluded Philippine United Football League, at the start of the second half to turn the screws on the Lions.
All Philippines' best chances fell to the pint-sized attacker.
Just two minutes after he came on, Minegishi latched on to Schrock's perfect through-ball and fired a shot at goal, but Hassan Sunny dived low to his left to parry the ball.
With nine minutes left to play, Minegishi and Schrock again combined, but the former blazed his effort well over the bar.
In injury time, Hassan dived to his right to produce a full stretch save and tip the ball behind, after Minegishi was unmarked at a corner kick.
Sundram, who had screamed himself hoarse during the game trying to organise his team, was in a foul mood over the red card, which he felt was harsh.
He was further riled up at the press conference, when a local journalist asked if he felt fortunate to escape with the point
Doing his best impression of Dirty Harry, Sundram shot back: "Do you think I'm lucky?"
"The boys were motivated before the game and we went out there for the three points, but that task became a lot more difficult with just 10 men," he said.
"Obviously with only 10 players it is difficult to press high, because you'll leave a lot of holes behind. So it's natural to sit back and counter."
"Coach sets us up to our strengths, and we thought,even after the red card, we might have nicked something at a set-piece. To me, it doesn’t matte rhow the crowd reacted, or what anyone has to say."
- Singapore skipper Hariss Harun
TEAMS AND LIONS' RATING
PHILIPPINES: Roland Muller, Amani Aguinaldo, Kenshiro Daniels (Junior Munoz 82), Jeffrey Christiaens, Kevin Ingreso, Manny Ott, Phil Younghusband, Mike Ott, Misagh Bahadoran (Mark Hartmann 58), Stephan Schrock, Iain Ramsay (Hikaru Minegishi 46).
SINGAPORE: Hassan Sunny 8, Faritz Hameed 6.5 (Baihakki Khaizan 77), Madhu Mohana 6.5, Daniel Bennett 8, Shakir Hamzah 7, M Anumanthan 7, Juma'at Jantan 6.5 (Faris Ramli 64), Safuwan Baharudin 6.5, Hariss Harun 6.5, Hafiz Abu Sujad 6, Khairul Amri 7 (Yasir Hanapi 94).
TNP Man of the Match: Hassan Sunny
Shots: Singapore 0 on, 5 off; Philippines 7 on, 9 off
Corners: Singapore 3, Philippines 8
Offsides: Singapore 0, Philippines 4
Yellow cards: Singapore 3 (Anumanthan, Safuwan, Hassan), Philippines 2 (Manny Ott, Mike Ott)
Red card: Hafiz 34
Referee: Masoud Naifa (Syria) 3.5/10
Match rating: 4.5/10