Azkals: Friendly vs Indonesia not a grudge match-A A +A
Monday, June 4, 2012
FOR defender Rob Gier, his teammates in the Philippine men’s football team have no axe to grind against Indonesia, the country that crushed their hopes for a historical finals appearance in the Asean Suzuki Cup two years ago.
Gier said they have left the past behind as they will use the match slated Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila to prepare for the next staging of the tournament later this year.
“I really don’t consider it as a revenge match. A lot of things have happened since that semifinal. It’s going to be an interesting game,” he said in a pre-match briefing in Pasig City on Monday.
Gier was part of the team that battled the Merah Putih (red and white) for the championship berth but failed in two games held at the 80,000-seater Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta in December 2010.
Indonesia eventually advanced to the finals, only to be clobbered by regional powerhouse Malaysia, which the Philippines held to a scoreless draw in another friendly encounter in Selangor last Friday.
Excited to play against the Indonesians, meanwhile, is midfielder Manny Ott, who missed the games before due to club commitments.
“I watched the game at home. It was really hard for me,” he said.
Linking up with the Azkals on Monday night are veterans Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara, while first-choice goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will be back on the pitch after serving his suspension when he was booked for a red card in the AFC Challenge Cup semifinals last March.
Based on the latest Fifa rankings, Indonesia placed 151st, while the Philippines got its highest ranking ever of 148 owing to the Azkals’ surprise third-place finish in the Challenge Cup in Nepal.
The Indonesians will parade a young lineup with holdovers from the 2010 squad led by Dutch-born striker Irfan Bachdim and Markus Maulana. It also has a new coach in Nil Maizar, who replaced Dutchman Wim Rijsbergen in April.
Despite this development, Maizar is hoping that his boys will be able to compete.
“I’m ready for the match. I’m a bit injured at the moment so I’ll be using painkillers to be good enough to play,” the 23-year-old Bachdim told Sun.Star.
Bachdim said he has high respect for the Filipinos especially to Phil, whom he remembered as the man who shone the brightest in Jakarta. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)