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
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
Qatar - Azkals United
July 23, 2011
Today will be one of the biggest fight the Philippine Azkals will have to face, a race to finish magnificently to qualify on points in this 2nd round opener for the FIFA World Cup 2014 road to Brazil. 57 long places below the more experienced Middle Eastern Powerhouse and former 1980 Asian Cup Winners Kuwait, The Azkals will have a hard time handling superior attack, defense and strategy, well on paper that is for now, the Squad trained in Bahrain playing the U23 Squad, lost on both practice matches, this might have tickled the Kuwaiti side to think the Philippines will never be a force to reckon with today as the match kicks off in the evening, Kuwait Coach said, that his team is ready and will be too much for the AZKALS too handle, but he respects the Philippine Football Team, but also apologized for a coming loss. I say, he can apologize all he wants but until the match is concluded Sir, you may keep your apology inside your bag and be ready to bring it home and open it in the lockers with your players.
A draw is what the Azkals are hoping for, to play offensive is not an option at the moment like how they drenched Sri Lanka on a historic match in Manila. Unfortunately, Sir Dan has already confirmed that they will not have defender and capttain Aly Borromeo and Stephan Schrock to boost their flanks as FIFA Ruled out any exception, but then again, they will have to heavily rely on the others AZKALS to play smart and defensive Football vs Kuwait. Roel Gener or Jason Sabio should be starting in place of Aly Borromeo.
Chieffy Caligdong will be carrying the captaincy on this match.
Good luck has however shed on the team as Ray Jonsson, the Fil-Icelandic defender and Philippine last line of defense Neil Etheridge came in just in time as we introduce ourselves to some 4,000 OFWs atleast watching the Kuwait Vs Philippine Match today. As Manny Ott had said "It will be a Home Game", but you see, football is a religion in Kuwait, expect some 14, 000 singing & screaming Kuwaitis with drum beats tonight.
In round one, The Azkals are heavy favorites Vs Sri Lanka, and later in the evening, the tides are turned Vs Kuwait, playing Goliath in this event, whom David knocked out in a single Sling Shot, Can we pull this off and write the story of legends like David? Well find out in a few hours, kapit mahigpit, kapatid kung Azkalero. The game is about to start.
Qatar, July 15, 2011
Iraq, the former 2007 Asian Cup Champions were outclassed by Kuwait in their Invitation friendly match in Jordan on Wednesday. Kuwait won 2- 0 Vs The Iraqis on a friendly but very physical game, The first Half saw good action from both sides, creating passes and chances but led to well defined defense. However the 2nd half was another story.
The Iraqi Goalkeeper stopped shots and kept the ball out all night from an aggressive Kuwaiti offense, but couldn't hold more as Kuwaiti's Fahad Awadh stroke a perfect angle from a picture perfect pass fed by Bader Al-Mutwa coming in the box that had Kuwait leading on the 65th Minute. Hussain Fadel sealed the victory on 85th mark striking from a cross received by a teammate wildly passed to him and he made no mistake kicking it on the top right of the net. The Iraqis tried to score a goal on a break away attacker but was pulled literally from behind by a Kuwaiti defender.
Kuwait invested on deadly crosses and superior physicality vs an Iraq defense that was sloppy coming in the 2nd half.
The battle looms ahead for Kuwait Vs Philippines, The Azkals will leave today, 15 July 2011 to Bahrain as part of their 2nd round preparation, They will be without Jerry Lucena, who suffered a slight foot injury last June 30, Paul Mulders is another player the team will surely miss if Club fixtures forbids. Ray Jonsson's Club currently suffers from the list of injured players, but all hope is high that he can join in with the team in Bahrain. Jason De Jong was called up to the squad along with Patrick Hinrichsen and Yannick Tuason, who last saw action in the AFC Challenge Cup in Myanmar. Aly Borromeo and Schrock will not play on the first leg due to suspensions from acquiring 2 yellow cards vs Sri Lanka.
The Philippine Azkals hope to use their Bahrain matches to adjust in the Middle Eastern region's Hot Dry Climate. The 1st game vs U23 Bahrain will be in the National Stadium in Rifa then the 2nd game played after 2 days will be at the Muharraq Club Stadium. Tickets at BD. 114.00 (Bahraini Dinar)
"We will go 4-5-1," said Weiss, the formation he intends to use when the Azkals play the Kuwaitis in the opening leg at the 22,000 Seating Capacity of Mohammad Al Hamad Stadium on July 23.
"Defense is key" says coach and will try to control the Mid Field and Solidify the defense hoping to make a 0-0 Draw and bringing the match home in Leg 2 come July 28, 2011 in Rizal Memorial Stadium.
While the team prepares rigorously, Michael Weiss knows that they are truly the underdogs VS a powerhouse like Kuwait, but as our coach would tell FIFA "With solid preparation, good performance and perhaps an extra ounce of luck, it’s possible for us to turn the corner." and that corner is just around the bend.
Help the AZKALS U23 Squad by purchasing your AU Football Kit . 50% of each Sale will be donated to the U23 Team. More Details here: