Mar 19, 2011

Azkals are in for a tough week ahead: Group Stage Preview

Just a week after their match-up with Mongolia, the Azkals are at it again as they begin their tough Group A battle on Monday, March 21. Fans can move on now from some of the disappointment they had with the 2-1 loss in Mongolia. Myanmar, Palestine and Bangladesh is next in line. 

Fans are eager to watch the games on TV, or at resto's and bars complete with costumes and jersey's. I have been never this excited to watch a sports game since Michael Jordan was playing Basketball. 

Now, I'm going to layout to you guys whats in stored for the Azkals in the coming week as I deliver my personal preview.(I'm really starting to enjoy doing all these predictions and previews.)

Myanmar (White Angels)   

Head CoachMilan Živadinovic (Serbian)

        • Previously managed: Iraq, Yemen, Ghana
        • Known as a coach who advocates a system of old coaching school.

FIFA Ranking: 161 (dropped from 149)

Player to watch: #10 MF Yazar Win Thein, # 19 MF Pai Soe, #14 MF Myo Min Tun 

View Rosterhere

Head to head match up with RP: (4W-2D-0L) Goal difference (15-3) since 1998.

Challenge cup record: Best--4th place; (4W-0D-6L); Total Goals -- 12

Since 2008: (7W-1D-9L) Goals (21) Goals Allowed (38).

Recent Video:

Analysis: Theme-- "Hometown Heroes" Myanmar will be the Azkals' toughest opponent in this group, just because they came actually from a higher ranking before (149), they have more international experience (4th last yr Challenge cup), they played together longer, they are playing at HOME. The flip side is they have a new coach and a new System in place, so they are in adjustment period.

A great motivation for the Azkals to know is that we have never beaten Myanmar in the last decade, and we drew with them twice, in the last 2 meetings. All their players play for National League teams.

Prediction: Azkals 2-1 Myanmar ( Araneta, Aldeguer), #2 in Group

Palestine Al-Fursan (The Knights); Al Fida'i (The Fighters)

Head Coach: Mousa Bezaz ( French-Algerian)
      • Played as a defender
      • Previously managed French Clubs, before signing with Palestine in July 2009.
FIFA Ranking: 178 

Key Players: #11 FW Fahed Attal, #15 FW Ahmed Keshkesh

View roster: here

Head to Head with RP: none

Challenge cup record: Best --- Quaterfinals; (2W-3D-1L); Total goals: 17

Since 2008: (0W-3D-4L); Goals: 1, Goals Allowed: 14 

Recent Video

Analysis: Theme --- "Starving for a win" Palestine is like the Prodigal team of this group, they have been an on and off team. Recently they have just hosted their first home game in  years and the team is inspired. The Azkals should watch out fro Fattal who once scored 8 goals against Macau. Little has been known about the team, there are a mix of players playing in foreign clubs, means the team in "reinforcement mode", just like the Philippines. Among the teams in the group, Palestine is for me the most unpredictable and should not be taken lightly despite their low FIFA ranking.

Prediction: Azkals 1-1 Palestine ( J. Younghusband), # 3 in group

Bangladesh (Bengal Tigers)

Head Coach: Robert Rubcic (Croatian)
      • Former Croatian player
      • Previously managed Croatian football clubs until he signed with Bangladesh last Sept. 2010
      • He prefers fast playing with lot of running during the whole match, emphasizing on the technical aspects
      • He said that the national team will from now on play 4-2-3-1 formation, which fits the team best.
      • People had expected a lot from Robert but he couldn't stand up to the expectations of the people as Bangladesh crashed out of the Asian games loosing every game.

FIFA Ranking: 174

Key Players: FW Enamul Hoque, FW Mohamed Zahid Hossain Ameli

View Roster: here

Head to Head with RP: (1w-0D-0L) Goal difference: 3-2 (1984 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers)

Challenge Cup record:Best: Quarterfinals (3W-2D-4L) Goals: 11

Since 2008: (3W-1D-5L) Goals: 10, Goals Allowed: 16

Recent Video:

Analysis: Team Theme --- "Out to prove" The Tigers are a veteran team in the Challenge cup but they have only reached the quarterfinals (but better than the RP). They are a pesky team, and play rough. The Azkals have a lot in stored for them by this Bangladesh Team. Their country recently is still at a high with a good showing in the cricket world cup, so they are hoping that the hype would rub on the team. 

The Azkals will have a large frontline and I think our strikers are more skilled, and could easily penetrate their defense. Their goalie also seems to be not that good.

Prediction: Azkals 3-0 Bangladesh (Aldeguer, J. Younghusband)  #4 in the group

On the Azkals...

Theme: "On the rise" The Azkals are the highest ranked team in this group, but a rank is just a number, and with their performance against Mongolia, I would put them at same level with Myanmar.

Well, the Azkals will be missing the services of Phil Younghusband, and maybe De Jong but, they will be reinforced by some very talented players in Aldeguer, Hinrichsen, Gerridon, Lucena; Gier & Ethriridge will be back, forming an already solid line up and maybe taking this team to the next level.

One big obstacle with the Azkals' rise is "Team Chemistry", again they will be playing with new players and practicing with the new team with only days to go. I hope the team would gel that quickly and make a sudden impact into the game. I'm afraid the additions would add more chaos to the already confused Azkals.

One big motivating factor is that the team has never qualified in the Final tournament, and that should be enugh to keep the team focused and pumped up.

Possible formation (personal choice)

Prediction: #1 in group and will move on to the final 8 for the first time in the teams history. ( I hope....)    


  1. I Hope your predictions are RIGHT...

  2. Correction:
    We have played Bangladesh once a 2-3 loss in 1984 in
    an Asian Cup qualifier in Indonesia.

  3. @cjeagle, thanks for the added info, yes that is true, I just checked it and will update.

    Any predictions? I'm a bit worried of the Junta status, baka "ihawin" yung game

  4. You should be more concerned about this.

    I think they arrested some of those fans though.
    On paper we should win but Myanmar has a good coach who knows a thing or two about counterattacking football. Hopefully we win.

  5. @cjeagle, wow that's scary stuff, hope nothing like that happens.


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