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.
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:
Until the next Azkals' game, Supporters analyze and video scout the next opponent for the Philippines. a Former Asian Cup Champion in 1980, 10 Time Gulf Cup of Nations Champion, and having qualified to a World Cup in 1982, "Al Ashraq" or "The Blue" are a certain force in the Middle Easter part of Earth. While many sees a 1980-1982 Golden Age of the Kuwaitis in the football scene, they are certain and out to prove they can reach this era again. Proving themselves 10x on the Gulf Cup as they raise the trophy once again last year in the expense of another Gulf Champ, Saudi Arabia. The Score was 1-0.
Led by Bader Al-Mutwa who made 38 Goals in 55 Caps , and their Veteran Mid-Fielder Capt. Jarah Al-Ateeqi the kuwaitis has a lot to show on the field when it comes to discipline, endurance and competitiveness
As I watch them play here in Qatar in the last Asian Cup 2011, People talked of Kuwait as a nation to beat and beating them was not a walk in the park, high expectations for the 2010 Gulf Champions, the Kuwaitis were blanked in the recent 2011 AFC Asian Cup.
Knocked off on round 1 Beaten by China 2- 0, Uzbekistan 2-1 and Qatar 3- 0 but these doesn't mean they are no threat. Ranked 102 in the World. Kuwait has a lot to prove. Their coach has been giving the Team Stability since handling it 2 years ago, cohesion is eminent, they like playing long balls, and are extremely physical. Runs on a full tank and hungers for a comeback in the World Cup.
Hugely underrated and under-regarded, Kuwait have a solid record in regional football, but key weakness is that their league is Semi-Pro, none to few Kuwaitis had venture out to play outside the region for Professional Football Experience.
The Philippines sitting 159 at the FIFA World Ranking has indeed proven doubters of their deceiving looks, moreover turn tables of attention towards the country as an emerging football force in SEA. Their recent win Vs Sri lanka 4-0 has one of the best football ever seen from the Azkals. The closest the Philippines had experienced that is near Kuwaiit's prowess is Palestine in Physique, 70% Indonesian in Agility and Vietnam in Confidence, add shot precision and there you have your opponent.
The Climate here in the Middle East, ranges from 45-50C when the sun is up, whille temperature mellows down at 32-37C at night. The Azkals can well adapt to this instantly when they meet Bahrain for friendly games in Mid July. Certainly, it will never be like the Mongolian match wherein, the Coldness froze out muscles while the team played.
While playmaker Stephan Schrock will miss the 1st leg, Fil-Danish Jerry Lucena will come in for the team, along with Schrock, Aly Borromeo will be missing in action serving his suspension on 2 yellow cards from the Sri Lanka matches, Ray Jonsson was looming to come in from Ice Land but recent reports say that he may not be available due to his club's injury list of players and will badly need him, amidst the bad news, comes in a great one in Fil-Danish Dennis Cagara, who was reportedly available to suit up for the Philippine Squad.
The Azkals must play smart, defensive and convert counter attacks to successful self-less scoring plays. They have shown effective on short ball passes and can really compliment controlling the tempo of the game Vs Kuwait, Keeping the back line solid and intact while the forwards press on from MF to Finish, we can pull this off. I really believe we can defeat Kuwait, its just that how the Azkals can stick to battle plan thats going make or break it. If we can draw the game in Kuwait, We can certainly try to qualify big in Manila.
Our chances are 50% to win against a however 50 World Rankings Higher Kuwait. Weiss said " No Opponent is tough as long as we train hard. " he also reiterated that if the players gave more self-less plays Vs Sri Lanka in the 2nd Leg, goals would have come much higher.
The game with Kuwait will certainly result to an instant map of the Philippines in the World of football. A Certified Middle Easter Champion Vs a Nation of Football Converts. The Azkals will try to bring on the rain to this arid part of the region.