Sep 24, 2012

Peace Cup Preview: Azkals Enter Tourney Without Younghusbands

photo from
Last year it was called the Long Teng Cup and we finished 2nd with a formidable squad. Tomorrow, the Philippines will host the Philippine Football Peace Cup, with a lineup that is young, filled with local talents and a bit controversial. Recent events have transpired within the week and a huge shake-up of the team shocked Pinoy Football fans, including the Younghusband brothers who were not included in the roster of players who are to participate in the Peace Cup.  

Team Previews

1. Philippine Azkals

The Azkals have been rolling in the past games losing a to only a single game, to Chicago Fire, since June of this year, excluding of course that game against Laos which was nullified by FIFA. They tied with Malaysia (0-0) last June 1, and also with Indonesia (2-2)a few days after and beat Guam (3-0) in the same month before shocking Singapore (2-0) a few weeks ago. 
photo from Anton Sheker
Unlike the Singapore game, the lineup for the peace cup is quite different. Due to some nonavailability of some foreign based players, the roster was changed a bit with the additions of some local based players. But what was surprising was the exclusion of brothers Phil and James Younghusband to the lineup. In a press conference held earlier today, the PFF explained in detail why the Younghusbands were excluded from the lineup, coach Michael Weiss said that their non football activities were creating problems not only to himself but to other players as well. (From twitter)

The PFF also stated that they could not meet certain demands from the brothers, probably related to monetary concerns.

An official statement from the brothers from Interaksyon said that they would be willing to play for the country for free, contrary to the statement earlier said that they had demands that could not be met by the PFF.
“We have other commitments but we would play for the Azkals for free,” Phil told News5′s Chiqui Roa-Puno on Monday.
Phil's absence will be felt hard as Wolf and Araneta has shown no presence in the last games that they were together in the pitch. James on the other hand, will sorely be missed on the midfield as his leadership and play making abilities will be hard shoes to fill.
The emergence of Patrick Reichelt at midfield though proved to be a big boost to the lineup considering the absence of Angel Guirado and James. The only other threat the Azkals have is Bahadoran and of course Cheiffy, the defensive back seems to look solid as I see de Murga, and Sabio being the glue at the back.

Here is how I see the line up will go for much of the tournament:

As much as match-ups are concerned, the only stumbling block they have to face here is Chinese Taipei, If the Azkals can beat the Taiwanese, then they will win it all.

2. Chinese Taipei

The last game they played according to FIFA was during the last Long Teng Cup, and it was like a year ago. But according to their coach on a tweet from the press conference, the team is a different team from the last time the Azkals met them.

Ranked 176, the last time the team won a game was a 3-0 thrashing of Macau in last year's Long Teng Cup.

I think they will finish in the top 2, that is if the Azkals beat them. The last time they met the Azkals was a 0-0 draw.

3. Guam

This team is still a developing team with a lot of American and even Filipino players. The last time they were here was during a friendly in Bacolod, where the Azkals beat them 3-0. They have a very promising goalie though and the ladies should check this guy out.

I see them probably beating Macau as they did in the past.

4. Macau

Having the lowest FIFA ranking in the tournament, I don't see anything changing for team Macau. The last time this team won was against Cambodia, and this was last February of 2011. Team is made up mostly of older players avg. around 28-30's.

This tournament aims to expose National teams to competition and to improve younger players by exposing them to international play as well. The Azkals are aiming to surpass their achievements in their last stint in the Suzuki Cup 2 years ago, and they can only achieve this by preparing well. We hope that whatever trials they are facing right now they would be able to straighten things out, all for the name of National Pride! 

Good Luck to Team Philippines...Onward Azkals!!

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