It’s been five months since my last football post and Azkals game. I can’t believe I stayed away for so loooong! Well now that I’ve shaken off the dust, here’s my take on the team’s latest friendly which was streamed live and without commentators via a Kyrgyzstan live streaming link.
Last night, the 134th-seeded Azkals went up against a stronger Kyrgyzstan team, currently ranked 105th in the world, sans Stephan Schrock, Simone Rota, and Patrick Reichelt. They (surprisingly) emerged victorious, with the final score at 2-1.
The starting lineup was as follows: Neil Etheridge, Amani Aguinaldo, Dennis Villanueva, Martin Steuble, Manny Ott, Kevin Ingreso, Daisuke Sato, Misagh Bahadoran, Phil Younghusband, Iain Ramsay, and James Younghusband. This was the plan, according to Sir Dan Palami’s Twitter account (see image below).
The first half saw some sloppy defending from the boys. Most of it was played on Kyrgyzstan’s side of the pitch with ours barely seeing any action– until the 43rd minute, when Kevin Ingreso, coming off an error, scored the first goal via Phil Younghusband’s free kick. Ingreso, unmarked, was spotted by PYH who passed the ball to him, which he then curled towards the goal. Beaut.
The score was 1-nil at halftime. I couldn’t sleep even if it was way past my bed time (IKR) and also because I just got home from the gym and had a strong cup of coffee to keep me up, not that I needed it. The Azkals’ second goal came at the 52nd minute, with some Ramsay-Munoz-Bahadoran teamwork to create that header by Misagh.
Picture aside, it was refreshing to see fresh faces on the squad. It was, I believe, Junior Munoz’debut for the NT and he was already able to assist in securing the goal.
Just when I thought I could relax a little bit, Kyrgyzstan pulled back with a goal of their own on the 60th minute. They just wouldn’t let me sleep that easily. Ugh.
The remaining 30 minutes was full of hair-pulling, screaming, and jeering (all on my end). Neil had so many fantastic saves, including one from a penalty kick. A PENALTY KICK!!! The ball just couldn’t get past Neil’s enormous hands. Hehehe. :p
Crazy enough as the 5 minutes additional stoppage time was, full time was delayed by around 2 minutes because a referee probably had a different idea of the time. No one knew why because we were all just watching via the live stream with no one to explain what was going on in Kyrgyzstan. I was holding my breath the entire time (or not) because as you and I know, anything can happen in football.
It wasn’t exactly a magnificent overall performance by the boys in white, but a win is still a win. I just hope this friendly and the upcoming ones are enough to prepare the team for the Suzuki Cup. ‘Til the next games in October!
P.S. I miss Hans-On. Do you miss it, too?