Afterthoughts on Azkals Peace Cup Campaign-A A +A
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
THE Philippine Azkals won the first ever Philippine Cup by nipping Guam 1-0, thrashing Macau 5-0 and spoiling Chinese Taipei 3-0 for the Philippines’ first international football title in 99 years!
The victory proved to be sweet, as Coach Hans Michel Weiss relied on his young guns and a different approach to prove the pessimists wrong once again. It was a breakout performance for striker Denis Wolf who scored four goals and won the Golden Boot Award and a grand debut for midfielder Matthew Uy who played superbly and displayed tremendous composure despite his age, as well as OJ Porteria and Demetrius Omphroy who showed their speed and great ball skills.
What are the lessons we have learned in this tournament?
Howling Wolf. From a substitute to a first rate striker, Denis Wolf has finally arrived. Coach Weiss relied on his instincts and he was proven right when he fielded the young striker up front as the Azkals’ main hitter.
And boy, this Wolf simply overpowered the defenses of the opponents and gave us a glimpse of his full potential. With the future ahead of him, the Azkals definitely have reasons to celebrate that the diamond in the rough is about to transform into a well crafted gem. It’s now up to coach Weiss to let this happen.
Wolf’s Gang. This tournament also showed us that the youth is starting to take over. This is by far the most exciting team we’ve seen in years. Plenty of movement off this pitch and lots of nice touch passing made us believers that Philippine football is on the upswing.
Demet Omphroy was great in filling up the wings and he delivered telling passes up front, Patrick Christiaens was wonderful to watch in defense, sometimes lurking well behind his lines, and Uy was cool as ice in the central midfield and a joy to watch with his passing skills as well as his ball control.
These key additional personnel made everything so easy for coach Weiss and we can see the fire in their eyes burning hot like lava. Jason de Jong has come of age as the main man in defense and he proved to be steady in handling the opponents attack. Jason has matured and we hope he’ll carry the same brand of play in our next international friendlies.
What’s Next? We are definitely excited on how coach Weiss will approach the next international friendly matches against Kuwait (rank 100) and Bahrain (rank 112). Both teams are way beyond our standings and could pose a threat to our steady climb. These two road games will definitely set the tone for our final preparations for the Suzuki Cup this coming November.
The question now lays on the availability of our players and the game plans the coach and the team will cover in these hostile territories. We all remember how Kuwait dampened our hopes last year by eliminating the Azkals in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The Kuwaitis played with confidence against us because they have so much exposure in football scene.
The same goes for Bahrain. These Middle East teams will definitely give the Azkals some trouble.
However, on the positive aspect, these matches will open more windows of opportunities for our players. If we play with intensity and consistency all throughout, we might give these MidEast teams some cause for concern.
Of course, with three victories to show in the Peace Cup, we expect a better ranking this month from FIFA. (Jun-Jun Carballo)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 02, 2012.