Mar 18, 2011

Azkals Advance to Challenge Cup Group Stage, but Still a Work in Progress.

Well, it’s done and over with, but a WIN is still a WIN.

The Azkals achieved their goal of qualifying to the next round, which is the qualifying group stage in Myanmar by squeaking out a 3-2 edge of Mongolia in aggregate on the second leg of the pre-qualifying match of the 2012 AFC challenge cup. Mongolia won the match 2-1 but the Azkals carryover the score of 2-0 in their win in Bacolod to make it 3-2 in favour of the Philippines.

The Azkals seems to be disappointed with the loss, even extending their apologies to the fans. The fans, on the other hand, had mixed reactions. Some were supportive, while others blamed the team’s poor defense and even blaming specific players for mistakes made.

As for me, I will not be pointing fingers at anyone; rather I will breakdown to you what I observed from the game and the simple lessons the fans and the team might learn from this experience.

The game preview

In my previous post on the game preview, I laid out some critical factors that could influence the outcome of the game: The cold, Mongolia’s style of play, the azkals missing players, overconfidence & off field distractions. All played a role to the 2-1 outcome.

To visualize the intense sub zero conditions, check out the team during the National Anthem, particularly Anton D. & Araneta.  

I predicted a 3-1 score in favor of the Azkals, close enough to the 3-2 win (although I thought Araneta would score). I also mentioned an early goal from the team, and James Younghusband did just that, scoring off the rebound from Caligdong’s attempt at 4 minutes into the game. The starting 11 was what expected it to be, except that Jonsson was moved up to midfield and Gener was moved to right fullback, with the absence of Dejong.

Points to Ponder
  • The Azkals should practice more consistently with its starting 11. Since the game in Bacolod, the Azkals have been practicing with an inconsistent lineup, falling to Japan college teams 4-0 and 8-1 in tune up games. Etheridge, De jong and Gier were not available.  Jonsson and Sabio both did not train in Baguio and Japan, and arrived a day or two before the match, yet they started. This led to a weak left side, as majority of the Mongolian attempts were from that side including the first goal (which I think was actually offside) and Sabio's foul in the box (it was inside the box Jason). This will affect team chemistry and will continue to bother the team's performance until next week in the group stages, so I suggest the staff should do something about this.
  • Eduardo Sacapano did his job during the match and should not be blamed for the team's loss. Ed was like a victim of circumstance. It could have been prevented if the defense played its part in controlling Mongolia's attack.
  • Coach Weiss, mentioned an attacking team before they left the Philippines, and it seems not to be the case. The game went well in the first few minuets, but after the first goal, the Azkals' offense seemed to be in disarray. I expected to see more short passes and simple plays. It looked like the Azkals went back to playing long ball, and were more concerned with individual highlights. I remembered where Cheiffy was running a breakaway, when J. Younghusband was free for a wide open pass and could have returned the favor, but instead he forced it and ended up with a wild shot. Football is a team sport, I'd rather see a simple play converted, rather that a risky individual wild shot (Basketball influence?). 
The Azkals are a young team, with so much potential, and still a work in progress. It might take them a few years before they could be a real threat in the region. For now, let's savor every winning moment and support them in defeat. Looking forward to the group stages next week!

Onward Azkals!! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...