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
The road to the World Cup 2014 in Brazil had just ended for the Philippine Azkals, losing 3-0 in the away leg and 1-2 at home vs a former World Cup finalist, an Asian Cup Champion and 10-Time Gulf Champions, Kuwait. Few months ago, The Philippines was hardly a contender to any international football match, has been tagged the name "Minnows", a small freshwater fish, mainly used as a bait. Majority of Filipinos did not support the team and the sport as it struggled to get out of the shadows to the limelight.
In the match that erupted 13,000+ Live Filipino fans and over a million watching at home, The Azkals had shown the world that they can, and they will not back down to any challenge even if it means fighting 59 countries above them in world rankings vs Kuwait. What has been known as the strongest team that the AZKALS has ever fought, The Philippines who lacked international experience, funding, and support then has truly elevated from the slump that Philippine football was in, to a fast rising football team in South East Asia.
“You have great talents and good system in place. You have to continue playing to gain more experience. We may have more experience and better ranking but I think in a short period of time, the Philippines will become one of the top 10 national teams in Asia,” said Kuwait's staff headed by coach Tufegdzic. I can only, agree to this strongly, as Kuwait was faced with dangerous scoring chances by AZKALS attack.
“In terms of technique, tactics and conditioning – Kuwait was always a a step higher. The team can only learn from this experience. One year ago, who would have thought that we’ll reach this far but we have to continue. I hope that the support will not stop,” Weiss said, and coach, no body even thought we can score against a team on this caliber.
Let it be known that the AZKALS is still a developing football team in the process of trying to get their acts together in all aspects, we have to give credit to the squad that has sacrificed so much for the betterment of the team. Physically & mentally bombarded with pressure carrying the flag on their sleeves and millions of Filipino football dreams, people we are just starting.
The World Cup Qualifying event yesterday officially welcomed the Philippines to the football world, We might have suffered losing 2-1, but the culprit for erupting Filipino fans was Stephan Schrock's scorching goal that he blasted just outside the box ending in the top right corner of the net, the marvelous goal lead the Philippines 1-0 on half time.
In the 2nd Half, Kuwait's experienced led them to equalize after a long shot from their striker, Neil Etheridge tried to save it but failed. Forcing a comeback, our defense let off a little bit that had Kuwait capitalize on them by fast counter attacks and one that saw the 2nd goal slipped our keeper slowly crawling its way to the net, Ray Jonsson tried with all might to save an inch of disaster but couldn't kick it off the line. The Kuwaiti's on this time sealed their 3rd round ticket to Brazil but was through a very challenging road. An All out war was waged by the Philippines from the start till the end, creating chances that could have piled on the score card that might have even surpassed our aggregate deficit. Neil Etheridge made outstanding saves that prevented a blow out score by Kuwait.
Pilipinas, we have earned respect. There is no reason to be sad, many of our players has not even reached their prime football age, and the future looks brighter than ever, Nothing is impossible.
The Azkals are set to compete on the Long Teng Cup with Taiwan in September against Hong Kong, Macau. The (PFF) Philippine Football Federation in October will host a 4 Nation's Challenge participated by Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss will lead the Under-23 football team in its bid to win a first ever medal in the men’s football competition of the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia slated from Nov. 11-22, 2011 in the capital of Jakarta and Palembang.
To the fans, Welcome to the world's most popular sport! I ask your sincere support, No loss is going to break our spirit, we have such a long road to take in order for us to compete better, in time we will only be stronger, and through it we will be wiser, our AZKALS has so much potential and who knows, we will someday step on a World Cup finals and our anthem played as the earth listens to its Filipino lyrics of valor and gallantry.
To the Azkals, Maraming Salamat (Thank you) You may have failed to qualify for the WORLD CUP in Brasil 2014, but you have surely qualified to the heart of Filipinos world wide! through your works, you have shown that Filipinos never back down to challenges, through your actions, you have exposed that we never say die & that we never lose without a fight, we are never scared to face anyone on and off the pitch and that WE DO NOT GIVE UP and this is no secret.
NO WORDS CAN EVER EXPLAIN HOW YOU MADE EVERY FILIPINO STAND PROUD.
We are all behind your back. Mabuhay kayong lahat!
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: