Afterthoughts on Azkals’ Mid East friendly games-A A +A
Thursday, October 18, 2012
THE Philippine Azkals Middle East training camp, where the Philippine men’s national football team gave hosts Bahrain and Kuwait a good fight in their home turf, is a testament that coach Hans Michael Weiss’ wards have improved by leaps and bounds.
The Azkals’ preparation for the Suzuki Cup this coming November is going in the right direction and we should be happy with the results.
Playing against higher-ranked teams and against heftier and faster opponents, the Azkals displayed cohesion in the pitch by offsetting the adversaries with their timely counters. It was unfortunate however that our strikers failed to connect.
Last year, during the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Kuwait demolished us in two games by winning the first game 3-0 and again 2-1 in the Manila leg. That’s a 5-1 aggregate score in two games.
Trying to make an impression with the latest Azkals composition, we made a good showing yesterday in losing by just one goal. We have vastly improved is an understatement and there’s more to come.
What have we learned so far?
Player Availability. Coach Weiss has plenty of weapons in his arsenal that are willing to explode in any given time. The young guns in Patrick Reichelt, William Uy, Demet Omphroy and OJ Posteria are all waiting in the wings to display their skills against the region’s best.
However, the team must prepare for possible unavailability of more stable players in the field, since we have no assurance if they will be released by their current ball clubs.
Coach Weiss must devise a plan on how to overcome this testy situation. The team has more than one month left and a home game against Singapore prior to plunging into the Suzuki Cup. Maybe by that time coach Weiss already has players in his mind who will suit up for the tournament. Will the “new” Azkals deliver?
All Roads Lead to the Suzuki Cup. The groundwork of having a respectable finish in the Suzuki Cup has been worked out as early as January this year. We must commend the organization for finding key players that will fit in with the Azkals’ system. International exposure and training to further develop their skills and teamwork were done.
Young players are humming the team’s offense and we have seen big progress in their style of play. They are now more aggressive in defense, always putting pressure on opponents. Moreover, team passing has improved into another level. It’s just a matter of time before we see the beautiful game displayed by the Azkals. Can they sustain their kind of play in a tough tournament like Suzuki Cup?
Step Up. The veterans led by Chieffy Caligdong, Phil and James Younghusband and Rob Geir must lead the way for the youngsters. The team will follow their lead and, with proper direction, our team is going to have a bright future.
What’s been missing in the line up is Ali Borromeo. Ali’s been the main man of the Azkals’ defense and sets the tone for the opposing team’s strikers that they have to go through pain and endure hard tackle before making the goal. It’s unfortunate that he suffered an injury and has missed all the Azkals’ game this year.
Enter Juani Guirado at the central defense and the ever reliable Geir to fill up the void left by Ali. Will age slow them down or will they continue to perform beyond expectations?
We expect nothing less than a semifinals breakthrough in the Suzuki Cup and anything less will make the die hard fans disappointed. Of course, we love to see them fighting for the championship! Can they rise up to the challenge? (Junjun Carballo-Contributor)
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 18, 2012.