Great Shots by Anton Sheker
The Azkals coming off a strengthening process after reaching historical milestones such as the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 3rd place finish are approaching an almost new phase in their preparations for the the region's most prestigious tournament, the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012.
The Philippines started off with a draw in Cambodia, 0-0 Score line last Wednesday did not really reflect the story that went with it. We had the upper hand as to controlling the match tempo and creating chances but was just not able to finish with a goal. Quite unlucky too as we could have scored but it's either the post saving it for Cambodia, or us missing it an inch wide and hitting it a little off target. The pitch was horrible and as if it was not meant to be for us...rain made it even more worst. No argument, many people said that we could have done better but this is football.
One big revelation however, is the quality shown by Filipino-Belgian Patrick Reichelt who came in as a impact-sub in the later half.
Expectations are high but these friendlies are tests for the team to know where and when to put on the needed adjustments. Winning is great, but the journey towards it is even greater.
Friday, Sept. 7, 2012 saw the Azkals battling regional football powerhouse Singapore. The Philippines twisting history again by defeating The Lions 2 - 0 in what many would describe as a glimpse of our potentials best displayed. Bob Guerrero would account this win for the Philippines as the 1st in the last 40 Years. FIFA would revealed our country defeating Singapore in 1972 with the same score.
Chieffy Caligdong scored in the 1st goal creating a shot for himself at 8' minute mark, followed by a precise curve shot by Phil Younghusband for the 2nd goal in the 48' minute at the 2nd half. Our defenders being led by Rob Gier, Jason Sabio, Carli De Murga and Jeffrey Christiaens were solid to help fend off Singapore's attack providing much needed defensive cover for our No.1 GK Neil Etherdige at the post.
The arrival of Filipino-German Stephan Schrock and playing along side with the team Vs Singapore is one big boost for the Philippines. Schrock was involved in a number of visionary passing that helped scored both goals. An assist to Chieffy and a great ball to set Phil Younghusband made a lot of difference. Stephan would then say that he is just a small piece of the team and that everyone played a great game.
Everyone has been waiting for the most formidable Azkals squad ever, but the hardship of trying to get our best team is always a work in progress since many of them still play for their European clubs. Having get them to play together for a short period is a leisure for both the country and the management but it is never impossible.
The Azkals is now enjoying a little bit more flexibility in trying to field the best squad in every match. The move of Fil-Europeans like Jason De Jong, Dennis Wolf and Patrick Reichelt for instance to our United Football League (UFL) is instrumental to the success of the national team. Younger players are influenced and more Filipinos are taking on the challenge than ever before with the emergence of professional football in the country.
A young 9 year old Filipino kid Sandro Reyes has been accepted to Barcelona's Futbol Escola, the development of our grass root programs and the recent partnership of DEPed & PFF. The many more undiscovered young Filipino talents in the country with football genes waiting to be polished...the future looks promising.
The Philippines National Football Team is now on its 3rd and final ASEAN 3-Nation tour in Laos. They will play a friendly game with the host country on Monday, Sept. 10, 2012. The Azkals will miss the services of Phil & James Younghusband which is due to a very important family commitment, while Jerry Lucena has been recalled by his club, the final line up for LAOS is listed below from the Official Site.
The following national team players have been called up for the friendly against Laos on September 10, 2012.
Goalkeepers: Neil Leonard Etheridge, Eduard Sacapano, Ref Delany Cuaresma
Defenders: David Mark Basa, Robert James Gier, Jason Abbott Sabio, Carlos Alberto Martinez de Murga, Roel Gener
Midfielders: Marwin Angeles, Marvin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Emelio Caligdong, Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason Nicolas Maria De Jong, Nestorio Margarse Jr., Paul Mulders, Jose Elmer Porteria, Andres Crisanto Gonzales, Patrick Reichelt, Stephan Schrock
Forwards: Ian Araneta, Denis Wolf
Qatar - Azkals United
Philippine International player Jason De Jong was seen on a friendly match for FC Dordrech, The club which plays in the Eerste Divisie First division league of the Netherlands, The Filipino defensive Mid-Fielder who also plays winger has been an instrumental player for the AZKALS during the Philippines 2010 regional competition and has been key to AZKALS football development since joining the Nationals.
Another AZKALS & Filipino International in Paul Mulders encountered Jason De Jong in their club skirmish.
FC Dordrecht 2 and ADO Den Haag which ended in the score of 0-3 for ADO. Paul Mulder's page updated :
"Sitting on the bus after a match with the second team of ADO to continue my fitness. Played against Dordrecht 2. I met Jason de Jong today, he plays for them. Cool guy."
Though no solid club signing information has been available, this certainly is news for Filipino Azkals & Football fans, since our player can still and might play again for a top league in the Netherlands.
His last club Persiba Balikpapan in the Indonesian Super League had parted ways with him due to breach of contract after 3 game appearances with them.
Jason De Jong replaced Stephan Schrock in the 1st Leg of the Philippines' historic World Cup 2014 Qualifying match vs Kuwait and has been known to be a tough defensive player for the AZKALS.
Photo Credits: http://fotografie.timversnel.nl/