MANILA (AFP) – The first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final clash between the Philippines and Thailand, which went ahead despite fears over Typhoon Hagupit, ended in a goalless draw in Manila on Saturday night.
Thailand had won the previous 14 international matches against the Azkals dating back to 1972 but they had to survive the final 21 minutes of the match at Rizal Memorial Stadium a man down after Adisak Kraisorn was sent off.
The Thai forward received a red card when he appeared to catch Philippines defender Amani Aguinaldo with an elbow to the face after an altercation between the pair in the centre circle.
However, the hosts failed to capitalise on having an extra man, leaving both teams with all to play for in the return match at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium on Wednesday.
The winner of the tie will face either Vietnam or Malaysia in the final later this month.
The opening half of Saturday’s semi-final was a disappointment with neither side able to carve out a clear cut opportunity.
However, the match came to life after the interval with Perapat Notechaiya firing narrowly wide for the visitors from a tight angle, while the hosts felt aggrieved when Phil Younghusband was unable to get a clear shot on goal after losing his footing following a Suttinun Phukhom challenge.
Thailand went closest to breaking the deadlock in the 55th minute as Charyl Chappuis burst into the Azkals box and saw his shot run across the face of the Philippines’ goalmouth Sarawut Masuk just failing to make contact with the ball at the unguarded far post
The feisty encounter boiled over in the 69th minute when Adisak was dismissed but the hosts could not make the most of the extra man with Younghusband going closest with a shot from the edge of the box that was easily stopped by Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thammasatchanan.
The match went ahead despite tournament organisers warning it could be cancelled in the event of severe weather.
The typhoon crashed into the eastern part of the country with gusts of 210 kilometres (130 miles) an hour, according to a local weather agency, while also bringing heavy rain to the densely populated capital of Manila to the north.