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!
by Daryl Lagos
The victory could not have been so much sweeter when the nation of basketball crazy population have waited 99 years to be declared winners of an international footballing event.
It was in the Far Eastern Games (ASIAN GAMES) 1913 when the Philippines had last won gold.
There was no loss on record for the Azkals in the Philippines Peace Cup 2012.
The likes of Macau, Guam and Chinese Taipei were a fair test for team that is preparing for the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012. The most prestigious ASEAN Cup ever! It is also the same event back in 2010 that saw the Philippines rise from the ashes.
The championship night was sealed off by goals from Dennis Santos Wolf, Skipper Chieffy Caligdong and OJ Porteria. This is also the 1st win over final's rival Chinese Taipei in 7 Clashes.
The Azkals played class in all 3 matches that in turned sealed them to sweep the entire tournament.
This also reflected in the awarding ceremony that saw Dennis Wolf, as the Golden Boot Awardee & Most Valuable Player, Mathew Uy was declared the best Mid-Fielder while Jeff Christiaens taking home best defender award.
Eduard Sacapano hailed as the best Goalkeeper taking command in the absence of GK Neil Etheridge & Roland Muller. All these players came from the Philippine National Football team.
Shining through the night was the trophy for the Champions that was also won by the Philippines.
Though a minor tournament, Azkals Coach Weiss was confident that this win will boost the national side's confidence in competing to what he would call as the "Climax" of these entire preparation..The AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 in November.
FIFA has also released the World Rankings that now sees the Philippines at 147, 21st in Asia, and 3rd in South East Asia.
This has been the nation's highest rank in history...yet.
December 2010, The AFF Suzuki Cup dreams ended for the Philippines as Indonesia hosted the semi-finals on both Home-Away games winning 2-0 on aggregate.
The Philippines could not host the home game due to an sub-par pitch at the RMS.
The Azkals who were having a historical run at the cup suffered heart breaking loses that would only propel an entire basketball nation to swivel a head and take notice of football.
A year and half, more training days / games, 3rd place win at the AFC Challenge Cup, new sponsors and bringing Filipino football players from all over the world later...we have now reached another game day vs Indonesia.
Today June 5, 2012, The Philippines will be hosting a match that would be a testing ground of their progress for this year's edition of the Suzuki Cup via a friendly match. luckily, Indonesia will be facing the most promising Philippine team ever assembled and available all together at a time.
Indonesia will be fighting for a winning streak Vs the Philippines that has never been broken.
The Azkals on the other hand are to take a periodical quiz in front of screaming Filipino supporters that are all hoping for a win & vengeance.
Indonesia whopped the Philippines in 2002, with a 13-1 triumph at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, but this is entirely a different squad that includes Filipino footballers from across the world.
Leading the Indons are Dutch Born Bachdim and an ever threatening Okto, while the Philippines will be have The Younghusbands back after missing an earlier friendly with Malaysia, Neil Etheridge at the post, Jerry Lucena & Dennis Cagara on the pitch and a much more solid line up of Chieffy Caligdong, Paul Mulders, Manny Ott, Rob Gier, Angel Guirado, Jason Sabio, Juan Luis, Carli, Misagh and the strong others.
Philippine National Football team Schedule:
Philippine Azkals, Global FC, and Kaya FC
September 17-24,2011 Rizal Stadium, Manila
The Long Teng Cup 2011 in Kaohsiung, Chinese Taipei
Philippines vs Hong Kong 09.30.11 1630 (Live on Balls Channel)
Philippines vs Chinese Taipei 10.02.11 1900 (Live on Studio 23)
Philippines vs Macau 10.04.11 1630 (TBA)
Scheduled International Friendlies
Philippines vs Singapore 10.07.11 1930 Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore
Philippines vs Nepal 10.11.11 Rizal Stadium, Manila
- Lester Hernandez, Azkals United