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!
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
Fulham's Neil Etheridge admits his chances at Craven Cottage are limited but is happy to learn from Mark Schwarzer and David Stockdale.
The Filipino shot-stopper admits his chances of securing regular first-team football in the near future are unlikely, due to the quality of the two men ahead of him in the pecking order.
However, the 22-year-old feels working alongside Australian international Schwarzer and Stockdale can only aid his development and Etheridge is happy to play the waiting game at Fulham.
He told the club's official website: "It's great for my development working with guys like Mark Schwarzer and David Stockdale.
"They're two great goalkeepers and it's obviously great working with them. Stocko has been on the fringes of the England squad and people don't need to say how good Schwarzey is as a goalkeeper.
"He's nearly reached 100 caps for his country and he's been playing in the Premier League for 14 years. Stocko still learns from Mark and obviously I'm learning from Mark as well, but everyone has their own style of play.
"When you've got 'keepers of their calibre ahead of you it's hard to get the opportunity [to play] but it makes you work that little bit harder. Not that you need any extra motivation, but it does make you work that little bit harder because you've got great goalkeepers in front of you."
| Original Post |
Raphael Phoebus M. Ubales
Earlier today (March 16, 2012), the Philippines witnessed football history for our country during the semi-finals match of the AFC Challenge Cup between the Philippine Azkals and the Turkmenistan Green Men.
An optimistic nation (amidst the controversies back home) embraced the challenge to beat the Turkmenistan team in the hopes of clinching a spot for the finals.
Although we had a very nice first half, we were not able to sustain a 1 – 0 score from the goal hungry Turks, ending the game with 2 goals later for the Turkmenistan team.
It was almost a dream come true when Paul Mulder’s cross from the right made a perfect combination with Phil Younghusband just in time to nick the ball with his chest to take advantage of the moment, making it 1 – 0. It was when Amanov saw the opportunity of given time and space outside of the box to chip in the ball to beat our goalkeeper. It was followed shortly by Chonkaev’s ball-handling skills and attack that slotted the ball and sealed the deal for their finals berth.
As the ball pressed forward to the Turk’s post during the added injury time, an agonized Chonkaev was down. Confusion broke on the field and the final call was a red card for Etheridge. This is where the photo comes in...
According to the ref’s call, Neil was given the red because of an incident that was caught on cam. But now, looking at this photo, do we have another perspective that was left buried after the final whistle?
Who would have thought that the reason for Neil’s behavior was his response to this stimulus? You cannot deny what happened in this shot. We could have played dirty, but Football is a game for the friendly.
I was personally more disappointed than disgusted. The photo may also somehow show that the Turk’s were intimidated with the Azkals that they needed to resort to such cheap tricks. I don’t know, this is just my opinion. Football is definitely a game of chance.
We could’ve won if things turned out differently, but as a young team, we did splendid. Amidst the controversies that the team is now facing, they kept fighting for our country.
These Filipinos fought hard and they played fair. At the end of the day, I couldn’t have been more proud with how these boys including Coach Weiss and the people behind them strived hard to put Football in the Philippine limelight. Your thoughts?
By Daryl Lagos
Manila, Philippines - Malaysia manages to salvage a goal in the dying minutes of their FIFA international friendly game vs The Philippines.
The Azkals team that is preparing for their AFC Challenge Cup clash in Nepal this month is coming off a remarkable training camp in the Middle East.
A team struggling to come and play together almost every game due to their commitments abroad has proven that they have developed flexibility and had harnessed their international experience to give life to Philippine football in just every game day.
Malaysia, the AFF Suzuki 2010 Champions and ASEAN Powerhouse was left trying to carry reputations of their titles in this "Friendly" in name match.
The Philippines scored first blood when Filipino German Denis Wolf headed in a magnificent throw from Jason Sabio.
Neil Etheridge, the Filipino-British goal keeper for the Philippines had crucial saves enabling a confidence booster for a Filipino organized attack up front. Angel Guirado almost doubled the lead but was unlucky hitting the crossbar.
The Tigers known to be dangerous on counter attacks was forced into a defensive mode in the 1st half.
Rizal Stadium, the same venue where the Philippine XI back in '91 defeated the Malaysians was an event awaiting rebirth until a rare defensive slip caused a goal that silenced the crowd of 7,000 In the 90th minute where the match later ended in a draw.
A glimpse on what to expect in this year's AFF Suzuki Cup has been spelled out. Malaysian coach Rajagopal praised the talents of the Filipino players and is more than excited to seeing the country rise up in football.
This game is part of the Azkals Training for the AFC Challenge Cup for developing football nations, where our country is ranked the lowest.
They will face North Korea on March 9, India on March 11 and Tjikistan on the 13th.
Sir Dan Palami said that reaching the semi-finals of the Cup is already a dream come true and is also hoping to get a full squad of Azkals fighting for the Philippines.
by Daryl Lagos, Azkals United
In search for a National Goalkeeper that led to many speculation surrounding the Philippines No.1 Jersey, A name came up to the short capable list and eligible to sing the National Anthem when the next Azkals game kick off.
Roland Muller, a 5'11 Fil-German who currently is listed NO.1 Keeper for MSV Duisburg in the 2. Bundesliga is reportedly the next line for Neil Etheridge. This is the same 2nd Division of Top German Football to which our very own Stephan Schrock plays for Greuther Fürth.
The 23 year old GK from his last club FC KOLN U23 already had manifested shot stopping skills and aerial reflexes that will certainly have him chosen as 1st Keeper in his current club MSV Duisburg in no time.
The search for GK reinforcement came about when our No.1 Keeper of faith, Neil Etheridge was elevated to 2nd Choice Keeper for Fulham FC in the English Premier League behind Australian Mark Schwarzer.
Englishman David Stockdale has joined Ipswich on a season-long loan after Fulham secured his long-term future with a new deal making Neil Etheridge stand next in line. Etheridge is vital to club's success in his new position, the Philippine International will find himself busy on schedule and with the Azkals missing an important star player we might be on a very unstable road to winning more games and progressing through the FIFA World Rankings although he will be there for the Azkals whenever club permits.
This is not the first time that Muller could be listed to defend Philippine goal line, In fact he was listed GK of the youth squad that saw battle in Nagold Cup - U19 tournament in Germany last April, but did not saw action due to club commitments. The Fil-International selection that represented the Philippines won 2nd place but only due to a goal difference.
We really need a reliable back-up for Neil Etheridge and the GK Position, someone who can keep a good guard of the post, from Muller and Etheridge, our locals will learn a lot as well.
His arrival to the Azkals camp will surely boost the team's depth for talent, more over secure that no alien goal may reach the Philippines net when he guards it.
We might soon see a lot of Roland Muller than expected.
Qatar - (AU) Azkals United
Philippine Football is on a renaissance, rebirth, being reborn, its like being back to zero again when the Filipinos embraced a religion in basketball, but then the AZKALS have stepped on so much achievement in such a short time that everybody notices that we have something to prove in the world's most popular sport.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is football, we lose some and we win on some. We are at an early stage of coming back to the pitch on a Philippine flag represent. We have shown through the AZKALS that Filipinos can and will be a team not to be bullied on the field.
Philippine International players born and raised in Europe or pure Filipinos grown in the country play side by side to battle a middle eastern powerhouse in Kuwait yesterday, we lost 3 - 0, but the score is not really a reflection of how we gallantly stood up to the much skilled Kuwait. playing defensively on a 4-5-1 formation we stuck on the strategy to block, tackle, clear any Kuwaiti onslaught, left to right, break away and long range strikes, The AZKALS would rather want to block all the shots with their leg, body and head and not let any ball pass them, Angel Aldeguer was physically tackled in the first minutes of the match as a Kuwait midfielder rushed in and sent Angel flying on a 360 and had him at his back shaken, he would suffer another tackle from behind as he tried to received a pass and turn it to a break away score fighting for the Philippines.
We had chances to take the lead as Phil Younghusband manage to stay onside on a break away but was met by Kuwait's goalkeeper, on a corner however Angel Aldeguer almost heads in to score but unlucky to hit the crossbar in the early minutes. Phil Younghusband all alone in front tries to scorched in a perfect goal placer but was tipped by a hairline! via the Goalkeeper sending it hitting the top bar again.
Unfortunately, the 1st goal was a skill, the 2nd was pure luck, and the third was fatigue, Neil Etheridge had defended his post all night as he was curled shot after shot and threatened by crosses on this evening. Ball possession was 80-85% for Kuwait. The pressure was tremendously at a constant build up, physical as it was, the brave AZKALS stood even at fatigue which was catching up on the adrenaline.
Back in Manila, AZKALS and its united fans are eager to bring home the game for the 2nd leg in Rizal Memorial Stadium on July 28. Everyone had their opinions, constructive and destructive haters present as well. The AZKALS didn't lose without a fight, nor will they lay the flag down in the 2nd leg without having to put on a brave face, but you know a secret better than anyone else kasi Pilipino ka, Azkals are more dangerous when angered, bloodied and beaten, so expect the unexpected when the Kuwaitis come to the Philippines.
We are proud of you AZKALS.
Photo by: Tariq Al-Ali
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.