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.
Playing on Malaysian turf, the Philippines coming in with a new spirit off a 3rd place win in the AFC Challenge Cup expected to be tested by no other than the AFC Suzuki Cup'10 Champions Malaysia.
Previously, Malaysia visited the Philippines for a friendly invitation that ended in an almost shocking visit if not for a late equalizer that leveled the game last Feb. 29, 2012 in Manila.
The score was 1-1 with the Azkals drawing 1st blood.
June 1, 2012 saw the street dogs and the tigers go out it again this time in Kuala Lumpur.
The Azkals were welcomed by some 15,000 Malaysians who were all expecting nothing but a win for their team.
Filipino-German Stephan schrock nearly scored few minutes after a kick off when a backpass from a MAS player went wrong. Thier keeper had enough to keep one away that early and close. His skills however was displayed in breaking the MAS midfield and lines but had no one to follow thorugh the trail.
Mohd Safee & Mohd Salee of the tigers were quick to attack and pressure the Philippines net only to find a relentless Roland Muller at the goal deflecting shots and attempts throughout the game.
The closest one was when Safiq stroke a scorching shot that called on the Philippines Roland Muller for a spectacular relfex save tipping the ball off to hit the right post.
Dennis Wolf nearly scored in the 1st half missing a whisker wide of the goal post after beating the MAS goal keeper.
The Malaysians however had the Tiger's share of possesion all game, but the Azkals having their crucial shares of the match which ended in draw at 0-0.
Both teams are using the firendly games as prepration for an upcoming clash in this year's AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 when Malaysia defends it's crown as the ASEAN Champions.
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.