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?
It’s the Azkals’ last game before the Suzuki Cup, and oh boy, despite my misgivings (especially about our goalkeepers), they did not disappoint.
The absence of several key players like Misagh Bahadoran, Carli de Murga, Jason Sabio, Angel Guirado, Jerry Lucena, Dennis Cagara, Neil Etheridge, and Stephan Schrock in the lineup was hardly felt as the Azkals’ deep bench more than made up for it. It wasn’t a championship match, but it sure felt like it, as the Azkals worked hard for a win in front of the very enthusiastic Cebuano crowd.
The Azkals were off to a shaky start, with many blown chances by its key strikers. Patrick Reichelt, although unselfish in passing the ball, was quite unlucky, and threw away potential chances to score. Our mid was quite problematic even if Jason de Jong held it up as brilliantly as he could. Our back line, on the other hand, was impressive, with Rob Gier and Juani Guirado successfully commandeering the defense.
The inclusion of the Younghusband brothers and winger Marwin Angeles in the second half, however, spelled the difference for the team. The substitute Angeles scored Philippines’ only goal at the 55′ mark, off a pass by Phil Younghusband, also a sub. I gotta admit, though, that the brothers were kinda selfish in their passes, opting to dish out to each other even if there were others who were in far better positions than them.
The brightest spot was definitely Ed Sacapano, who in the absence of Number 1 and 2 keepers Neil Etheridge and Roland Müller, respectively, stepped up to the plate in terms of goalkeeping. Sacapano’s (first) moment came right before halftime, when the referee (mistakenly) called a penalty against Jeffrey Christaeans on Singapore’s Amri. He brilliantly stopped the ball with his right hand, resulting in a missed open chance by the Singaporean side. This was Sacapano’s second penalty save in recent memory. I’m actually starting to think he might actually be psychic. :p And just as I was writing this, Sacapano makes another brilliant save off a dangerous free kick from Singapore. WOW. Pure class. I think we don’t need to worry as much if Neil or Müller cannot make it. OKAY ED MAKES IT THREE ON THE 88′ MARK. I think no one deserves Man of the Match honors more than he does. (I’m sorry I’m writing this piece while watching the game so bear with me with all the corrections, hehe) Thirteen shots on goal. None came even close. WOW. In Ed we trusted, and he delivered with a clean sheet. This has got to be one of the best performances of a keeper our country has ever seen.
I am definitely eating (with gusto) whatever I said about him not being ripe enough for the Suzuki Cup. With all the uncertainties hounding our goalkeeper position this Suzuki Cup (Neil allegedly chose to extend his loan to the Bristol Rovers to help them escape relegation, while there is still no word if Roland Müller will be released my MSV Duisburg), one thing is for sure. Manong Ed will step up to the plate if he is needed. Will it be another occasion for us to chant “In Ed We Trust”? Only a few more weeks to find out.
On to the Suzuki Cup! Our Azkals are finally ready.
It’s the culmination of the Philippine Azkals’ Southeast Asian tour which served as preparation for the upcoming Suzuki cup. The Azkals came off with a goalless draw, a Schröcking win, and a devastating loss, all in a span of 5 days.
The Azkals were off to a shaky start in Cambodia, only managing to score a draw against a seemingly weaker team. The squad was undeniably having difficulties, with the main problem stemming from the terrible pitch which was even made worse by the torrential rain. Even with the extra manpower from Europe-based Azkals Jerry Lucena, Rob Gier, Paul Mulders and the newly-capped OJ Porteria, the team barely managed to squeak through with a draw against the Cambodian side. There were too many flubbed chances made by our forwards, which could’ve resulted in at least three goals.
I was particularly disappointed with the performance of Neil Etheridge who seemed a little bit off and barely came off with a clean sheet that night. I know I’ve always commended Neil and even made a post about his tremendous skills at goalkeeping (and his BIG HANDS) but my newbie pundit skills aside, I felt let down. Maybe Fulham should consider loaning him to another team where he can have the chance to improve his game, rather than always relegating him to the sidelines. I’d hate to see him stagnate or even worse, deteriorate, so I hope Fulham gives him a chance.
Third match I’ve watched at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and the Azkals did not disappoint. Well, maybe a little, but not as much as if they came out with a loss.
I was really lucky to get Grandstand tickets from my Tita at the very last minute. I was okay with the bleachers tickets I was already scheduled to buy since it was nearer the loud Kaholeros (who by the way, make really good chants), but I had to admit, the Grandstand seats proved to be really good.
Traffic along Taft was terrible so Ham (that’s my sister) and I had to alternately walk and run, then dodge both pedestrian and vehicular traffic just so we could reach the RMS in time for KO. Our efforts were rewarded as we arrived just as the players walked on the field.
The Philippines has faced Indonesia 20 times in its footballing history and has never won a match against them— with the most positive scoreline a draw back in 19-freakin’-77 (PLEASE CORRECT MY HISTORY IF I’M WRONG ~A). It was also Indonesia who dealt us a very humiliating 12-0 loss some years back. The Azkals also faced them in the Suzuki Cup last year where there was a home and away format, which supposedly should have allowed the Azkals to play on home turf. Sadly, none of our stadiums passed FIFA standards and we were left with no choice but to play the supposed home game in Indonesian soil. If you haven’t heard the news, we lost.
You bet the Azkals came out looking for the blood of redemption.
Before anything else, let me make this clear. I have been an Azkals fan for the past eight months and while some may consider this as only a short time to be a fan, my support for the team cannot be questioned. This, however, does not make me a blind fan, oblivious to any wrongdoing PROVEN to be committed by any National Team member. The support I give to our National Team is for the pride and honor they bring our country, may it be a win or a loss.
A few days ago, a sexual harassment complaint was lodged against two Azkals, Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado, by match commissioner during the PHL-MAS friendly, Cristy Ramos. As an Azkals fan and as a female, I felt so strongly about the issue and thought I have to put my two cents in.
While I would never condone sexual harassment in any form, I have several reservations about the complaint lodged by Ms. Ramos on the issue.
The Haka has got to be the most bad-ass performance by a team before any kind of match. Scratch all those performances by cheerleaders, boosters, etc. This one’s made by the players themselves. This, my friends, is the All Blacks’ Haka.
Before you label me a poser for liking rugby, I just want to sincerely say I miss the Rugby World Cup. I got into it mid-2011, just about the same time I got into football. I learned to love rugby despite having no one to talk to about it, as the only person I tried to convince to watch, dismissed it as a sport for homosexual men, what with all the physicality the sport entails (no offense to homosexuals and rugby players). I spent countless sleepless nights trying to understand the rules of the game and getting to know the teams and the players. Basically, I just got hooked.
It’s been a few months since the Rugby Cup Final (and mind you, my team, the New Zealand All Blacks won!) and I think I’m still hungover from the whole series. I’ve been trying to watch different matches on Euro Sport but it doesn’t compare to the energy of the World Cup.
Anyway, I’ve still got three more years til the next World Cup. Til then, let me concentrate first on my footy.