First Look: Azkaks versus Mongolia – Feb. 9, 2011

I was not able to watch the Philippines (Azkals) versus Mongolia (Blue Wolves) match at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, but was able to follow it closely over the internet.

The Philippines of course won that game, 2-0, and these are just my impressions / notes of that game:

Game Proper
– Surprised that Araneta and Caligdong both started for the team, as under McMenemy, Caligdong usually subbed for Araneta. I guess this shows the emphasis on offense under the new Coach Weiss.

– I saw some lineups guessing who will start for the team in this game, and Simon Greatwich was usually in those starting lineups, but he didn’t start in this game. I guess Coach Weiss chose guys with more experience in this match (Simon was eventually sent into the game).

– A red card given to a Mongolian player sometime in the first half, so that meant they went down to only 10 men. I expected the goals should start flowing in with our numerical advantage.

– It still took some time for the first goal to come, though, courtesy of Chieffy Caligdong. I expected at least two more after that, what with the Blue Wolves down to ten men, and with us dominating possession based on the inputs.

– It looked like we had tons of shots on goal that just didn’t went in. And the Mongolian Goalie also had a lot of saves. That Goalie is going to make a big name for himself someday … Maybe sooner.

– We won 2-0 over the Mongolians, but I am a bit disappointed with the score, considering that we dominated about 90% of the possession, that the Mongols went down to 10, and even 9 men as the game went on. I think this team still has a lot of work to do before it can excel at the Asian level. And this game also shows we really need as much of those talented Fil-Foreigners as we can get.

– Great effort by Phil to get at least one goal in, though during injury time. He played with a lot of heart, never gave up, finally getting a goal.

‘Additional Thoughts’
The Azkal’s chances of moving on to the next round is still very much in danger. Remember that we were only able to score our first goal after the Blue Wolves lost a man after being given a red card.

And even with only ten men, we still found it hard to score goals, despite the tons of shots on goal we made. A two goal advantage is hardly insurmountable, and with the Mongolians playing on their home court, on the cold weather they are used to … Anything can still happen.

And I am not even going to mention the issue of officiating, which will probably favor the Mongols on their home court. The Mongols also showed good qualities, they showed great defense, lots of heart, lots of intensity.

At any rate, this series against the Mongols is still not finished, not by a long shot. The Azkals still need to be vigilant, and play like they are behind, as there is a real chance that the Mongolians could still pull off an upset.

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