by Daryl Lagos
The Philippines build-up towards the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 has reached one of it's 'Periodic Exams" battling Bahrain to a 0-0 Draw in Manama before slightly losing 2-1 to the home side Kuwait.
The Azkals did not entirely fielded the lineup who won the Philippine Peace Cup 2012 but did have the Younghusbands, Guirado Brothers, Lucena, Cagara, Jonsson, Mulders, Muller & Neil Etheridge for Kuwait which proved to be a handful for both middle eastern countries to just hammer away a win on the Philippines.
We are trying to get what we like to call in the music industry the "Final Mix" for our ultimate goal this year, the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 out of the deep bench in the Azkals disposal.
The draw in Bahrain proved to be a substantial result against a team that used to be 44 in the world! GCC Champions & Arab Champions in 2011 and is always a force to reckon with in the Middle East & Asia.
Kuwait proved to be a step ahead exhibiting speed, stamina and fitness. Sitting at 112 world wide, Al-Asraq proved to be a bench mark for the country to break. The regular gulf champions has kept the Philippines from advancing in last year's world cup qualification.
The Azkals exhibited discipline and class throughout the field & game and even proving hard to crack easily on defense. The Philippines did not settle for an all defensive action without counter attacks or trying to set up a formation to get a win unlike our previous match in Kuwait.
I can see Angel Guirado, Dennis Wolf, Phil Younghusband in the Kuwait match battling with their defensive match ups to get on the score sheet, the Mid-Field was on war and our Goal Keepers in both matches were highly up to the challenge.
Roland Muller highlighted a great save from a Bahrain attack the could have been the most dangerous for the Azkals. Neil Etheridge was more than outstanding and produced one of the best goal keeping for the nationals I have seen so far, multiple saves from several attacks and what capped it off was a penalty effort saved from a Kuwaiti striker and yet again saving the rebound only seconds right after.
His loan to the pirates kept him sharp and focused. I once said to myself, Bristol Rovers has the entire Philippines guarding their goal now.
3 Stars and a Sun!
You can never take away anything from the team against these 2 countries. We even won a lot of respect and experience. OFWs in particular are ecstatic to see our team go head to head with the host countries, because for them it is not just football but playing for their pride, honor and recognition.
Many might not have seen this part of the pitch but the not only did our team came there, they saw the people who looked up to them and conquered the notion that one day we will be there to win a game and prove Filipinos are truly up to the global challenge in and out of the pitch.
I admire that people on Twitterverse that has already learned the importance of not only producing goals in match, its every little thing that should come together as an entire piece, an entire team.
Decisions are made by the coaches & management based on how they become to see it and people are starting to appreciate the bigger picture. Healthy and constructive arguments that results to deepening relationships between the supporters and football.
A lost or a draw cannot just dictate the massive improvements we have come upon till this date. We still lack some cohesion, but just a little bit of tweaking here and there we will get that engine running.
I am pleased with the Azkals experience in the Middle East!
Since coming to PSG in 2005, Alphonse Areola never stops growing. And has already reached its adult size (1.91 m), the great goalkeeper has not finished growing sport. Far from it even, according to Bertrand Reuzeau. "He still has much room for growth," said the head of training in Paris.
"What impresses me is that it crosses the steps one after the other without ever panicking and staying himself," says the coach of Team France U19, Pierre Mankowski, who recently promoted to captain the French-Filipino born in Paris there are nineteen. Qu'Areola a rewarding role, that precocious talent has always amazed by his maturity - he signed his first professional contract at PSG at the age of 16 years - was "very logically assumed."
This season, the player seems to have found the right carburetion CFA. "It's like he's driving a brand new Ferrari with a full tank and it started to become a good driver," dares his agent Franck Belhassen. The young goalkeeper produced quality games and enjoy each day to drive from the experience of Sirigu, Douchez and Le Crom. "The coach (Ed: Carlo Ancelotti) took a fourth guard this winter (Le Crom) so he can continue playing in reserve and not to sit on the bench or in the stands," said Franck Belhassen. The result is there. "It is on the rise, Judge Bertrand Reuzeau. It will now confirm that in the professional world. "
Exactly. Carlo Ancelotti, who had wanted when he arrived this winter, see more young Parisian become hardened in the CFA, he decides to do so soon go up in rank, while the future remains unclear Douchez and Le Crom is out of contract? Areola, which extended its lease last summer at PSG until 2016, still has time to convince.
And the assumption of a loan is not excluded. To his coach at the U19 tricolor Pierre Mankowski is an avenue to explore: "This is quite exceptional for being so young owner of a professional subject, but it would be good for his personal development, progression and training he discovers a new level. This is the case of PSG, but for me the ideal would be that he plays at least in L2. "
Monitored since its inception by big European teams ( Manchester United , Tottenham, Chelsea ...), its profile would undoubtedly attract the interest of some coaches. Franck Belhassen admit to not having yet begun discussions with the Parisian club. "Its aim is to hold one day at PSG and for that he must go and get playing time in a higher division at CFA. "But when? "That's the club to decide," concluded the agent.
Fil-French Areola proud of Azkals' progress
By Edward Lao, ABS-CBN News Europe Bureau
LONDON – Young Filipino-French goal-keeper Alphonse Areola is proud of the achievements of the Philippine national team, especially as he has been following the Azkals' progress since their rise to prominence in the 2010 Suzuki Cup.
Filipino-French goal-keeper Alphonse Areola. File photo. "I'm happy and proud of the Azkals because they have made rapid progression," said the 19-year-old Areola, who plays for Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.
"I used to play in courtyards in the Philippines with my family and friends, and nobody knew football. It was only basketball," he related.
"I used to tell my mother it was my dream to have a football team for the Philippines, and now it's happening."
Areola’s parents are both Filipinos but he was born and raised in Paris, and is playing for the French Under-19 team.
Areola has not been capped by the senior team, however, meaning he can still choose to represent the Philippines.
The Azkals field a large contingent of foreign-born or half-blooded Filipino players. Although they have undoubtedly contributed to the success of the team, their presence has also raised speculation and debates regarding their Filipino identity.
Before the AFC Challenge Cup last March, veteran GMA-7 anchor Arnold Clavio sparked an uproar when he accused some Azkals of only pretending to be Filipino. The tirade, which took place on their show 'Unang Hirit,' was during a discussion on the sexual harassment complaints filed against players Lexton Moy and Angel Guirado.
The topic of race came up anew on June 5, when the Philippines faced Indonesia in an international friendly in Manila. During the match, some Indonesian fans chanted 'Hindi Kayo Pilipino' (You are not Filipino) to members of the Azkals.
Areola admits he was shocked by the chants, but said it does not matter as long as the selected players are eligiible and that the Philippines continue to progress.
"I don't mind if players are mixed, half-Filipino, German, English," Areola said. "It doesn't cause a problem as long as they are part Filipino. They automatically have Filipino blood."
"For the Azkals to have a great team they need to have real players. It doesn't matter if they are half-Filipino as long as they have a good team," he added.
Areola is undecided about his footballing future, as he plays on the French youth team but has also caught the eye of Azkals management.
"There's a chance of going senior. But if I don't get a call, then I have to reconsider my options because of my age, and maybe play for the Philippines," he said.
Areola will be France's first choice-goalkeeper when they play in the Under-19 European Championships In Estonia in July.
by Daryl Lagos
Baptized by Fire & Ice, Indonesia has found a new rival in the north eastern part of their archipelago.
Indonesia traveled to Manila to meet the Philippines on a FIFA sanctioned friendly game that ended in a 2-2 Draw & 3 Red Cards.
The Philippines for the 1st time in their match against the Indonesians controlled possession all through out the game.
A slightly off beat 1st half for the Azkals who were trying to assemble an attack that can break the Indonesian defense was seen early.
Filipino-Danish Dennis Cagara who just flew in to join the squad was remarkable with his precision passes saw great chances for the Philippines to take an early lead.
The 1st half ended with no goals, but the 2nd half is where it all begun.
Philippines coach Weiss started fielding in the starters that saw Philip & James Younghusband, Neil Etheridge and Jerry Lucena come in for Wolf, Mulders, Angeles and GK Roland Muller.
In the 58' mark, Wanggai from a cross connected with a low header breaking the stand off 1-0 in favor of Indonesia. A minute later, James Younghusband would equalize following a determined interception of a ball that he clinically finished on a 1 on 1 against a very experienced Indonesian Goal Keeper.
A clearance by Indonesia was met by Carli's header only to bounce off finding a Garuda Star Striker Irfan Bachdim racing towards Neil Etheridge who tried to sweep the ball but only to see it slip off in between his legs finding the net the gave Indonesia the lead 2-1 in the 61st minute.
Rain fell as dramatic as ever, it tried to cool off the pressure but rather became the baptism of fire and ice. Misagh Bahadoran came in for Angel Guirado earlier was fouled on a possession, a complaining Chieffy Caligdong was a recipient of a hot headed Irfan that pushed the Azkals captain starting the confusion and Manny Ott got involved immediately.
Irfan continued pushing Chieffy Caligdong until Dennis Cagara from behind came in to push the Indonesian Idol back to knock it off (Face Me Style!)
The Referee pulled out 3 solid red cards that sent the Indonesian Idol Bachdim to an early after rain shower. Chieffy & Ott was off the pitch as well. The Philippines with 9 Men Vs 10 Indonesians scuffle back to reorganize the set piece as a free kick was underway.
Cagara made a precise kick for James Younghusband to head bounce pass it close enough to Phil that would make no mistake in volleying in the 2nd equalizer of the match.
The Philippines could have even won this game after Phil's well timed shot was critically saved by another Indonesian Idol Goalie Marcus. He then went down on the pitch as if in pain burning the critical 5 mins added for injury time.
The game ended in a draw 2-2.
The Philippines fought with heart all game but the cohesiveness of their play made things difficult at the end.
The Azkals had so much talent on the bench and coach needed to use the game as an experiment to bring out possible scenarios that could come in the future.
Some players might not be available during games and the team needed back up fire power that can be tapped in easily.
A glimpse of an upcoming Suzuki 2012 match was seen and a new rivalry is born out of it.
It started off in AFF Suzuki 2010 when Indonesia through their Uruguayan naturalized striker shot 2 goals that took the Philippines off the semi-finals.
The 2 national team shall meet again in this year's edition...the only difference is that the Azkals are now ranked 3rd in the entire region.
Stats Summary : Indonesia Vs The Philippines
by Daryl Lagos, Azkals United
Paris Saint-German Football Club is a professional football association based in Paris, France. It is one of the most prestigious outfits in French football having won (2) League titles, (8) French Cups, (3) League Cups and (2) Champions Trophies that would go down as one of France's most successful club in history.
Now, for a moment there, I sounded like I was writing off a recipe for a french dish, but to make things more interesting, their new goal keeper is a full blooded Filipino.
Alphonse Areola, 18 year old, 6'2 Goal Keeper is a French national with Filipino parents, he is listed on football's wonder kids and has been seen to be guarding the goal post with amazing reflexes, tall frame and a country's football future hanging around his shadows. This Filipino-French keeper is set to be France's No.1 Goalie in next few years signing a milestone in PSG's Youth Academy when he was still 16 to be the youngest to turn professional in French football history.
Alphonse made his mark when PSG Coach Antoine Kombouaré made him play on a first preseason friendly against Swiss outfit FC Sion on July 9, 2011, but he started with PSG's 1st team on July 16, 2011 with draw Vs a strong Belgian Club in Anderlecht where he defended worrisome shots from another young star striker Lukaku.
"It's my first start with the first team. I enjoyed it, but I still have a long way to go. I need to show what I can do. The best thing about tonight is that I didn't concede a goal. The Anderlecht striker Lukaku caused me a few problems. I knew him already from playing against him at the Saint-Germain-en-Laye U-13yrs Tournament. He was already a monster back then!"- Alphose Areola
Indeed you have a long way to go Alphonse but as the club sees you now, it'll only be a matter of time.
While all of these seems to be unrealistic news for the 18 year old Goal Keeper, Manchester United, England's most successful football organization has been tracking him and joining them is fellow English side Totenham Hotspur. PSG swiftly moved to secure their new prospect with a signing of a new contract & terms that will see Alphonse playing top football until 2015.
Currently he is Paris Saint-German's 2nd choice goalkeeper but many are already saying that this young man will be defending those post as their No.1 Choice in just the near future.
Having played for France in their youth levels, The (FFF) - French Football Federation is already grooming this young man to be wearing their numéro un jersey.
Football Club & National dreams unfold in front of Alphonse and for a man his age, everything can be drastic, but the good side is that he is able to grasp up and perform whenever his services are needed, for when that ball dares to end those dreams, he'll come flying to defend it.
See Alphonse Areola in Action below...