First Look: Philippines versus Myanmar – March 21, 2011

Below is my blog about the game between the Philippine Azkals and the Myanmar White Angels held Monday, March 21, 2011.

As expected, Myanmar denied live broadcast of the game, hence people have to rely on Twitter to follow the game. A number of personalities were tweeting the game:
– Dyan Castillejo (@DYANCASTILLEJO)
– Craig Burrows (@craigburrows)
– Cedelf Tupas at @PHI_Azkals

‘Game Proper – First Half’
– Azkals on the defensive the first eight minutes of the game, with Neil already making at least two saves. Azkals did get in a shot, but saved by the Myanmar goalie.

– This reminds me of our last game against Myanmar in December 2010, where they also started very strong on the attack, with lots of shots on target.

– Four saves by Neil on the first twelve minutes of the game.

– Fifth save by Neil on the fourteenth minute. Those White Angels are really aggressive …

– Sixth save by Neil on the eighteenth minute. Too many shots on goal by Myanmar. Sooner or later, one might get thru …

– Chieffy with a steal but lost the ball, Aldeguer with a cross but no one to receive it. Azkals doing some attacking now.

– Another shot by Myanmar from Pai Soe from 10 yards that went wide.

– Myanmar dominating possession of the ball in the first 25 minutes.

– And another shot from Pai Soe that goes wide. This guy is really giving our defense a lot of problems.

– Another steal by Chieffy, but not exploited.

– Myanmar ballhandling reportedly very good and getting thru our defenses, as per Dyan.

– Myanmar again breaks down the Azkal’s defense. Thank God for Neil Etheridge, seven saves so far.

– The way the game is going right now, I would be happy with a draw.

– The Azkals survive the White Angel’s attack in the first half. With them being outplayed individually, I doubt if they can score a goal in this game.

– First half analysis, based from the tweets: Myanmar dominating possession, and taking a lot of shots; Etheridge doing a lot of saves; Azkals being beaten on defense; Myanmar has superior ballhandling and passing, the reason for them getting thru our defenses; Because we were on the defensive, we couldn’t get much of our offensive game going.

‘Second Half’
– At the start of the second half, Yanti Bersales replaces Ian Araneta. Bit of a surprise, but then again, adjustments need to be made for the team to improve in the second half.

– Another shot by Myanmar, but goes wide.

– Cedelf Tupas and Dyan Castillejo seems to have internet problems, but Craig Burrows still tweeting.

– Myanmar still on the attack, and the Azkals on the defensive.

– Craig hasn’t updated on Twitter in a while. It looks like he is having problems now, too. So no new updates of the game. Grabe talaga iyang Myanmar …

– Switched to Soccer Central’s tweet for the updates. Not as detailed as the previous ones, mainly just got the general highlights and remaining time.

– Myanmar given a red card on the 73rd minute. No additional details were given. But this is great, that means they are down to ten men on the pitch. That should improve our chances on the attack, and might turn the tide for us.

– Craig Burrows reports patchy internet connection, so less updates on Twitter.

– James Younghusband scores a goal for the Azkals off a penalty kick on the 76th minute. James has now scored goals for the Azkals for the last two games.

– Azkals should be vigilant in Stoppage time. The White Angels won’t give up, not on their home turf.

– Starting to feel so excited about winning this game. The Azkals need to hang on for a couple more minutes …

– Now in stoppage time. Just a little bit more …

– Reports starting to come in that Myanmar equalized. Couldn’t believe it at first, but finally a Soccer Central tweet confirmed it. Utterly devastated by the news. We were so close … and yet so far. LOL.

‘Game Reflections’
We have not won a game against Myanmar between 2001 to 2010. It was either a loss, or a draw. Now in 2011, the dawn of a new decade, we still can’t beat them … Then again, they were on their home pitch. With only ten men, they gave everything to tie the score. They were also probably afraid of being sent to jail if they lost on their home pitch. LOL.

This is like what happened in our game against Singapore last December 2010, except it happened to us. Singapore was leading 1-0 in the game, until Chris Greatwich scored in stoppage time.

The Azkals played terribly in the first half, being manhandled by the White Angels. Were it not for Neil Etheridge, we would’ve been blown out of the game right in that first half.

Relied from news reports from writers who were there like Cedelf Tupas and Craig Burrows, and they report that the Azkals played much better in the second half, with new recruit Angel Guirado leading the Philippine attack. Barsales reportedly gave lots of problems for Myanmar because of his speed, which finally resulted in a foul on him and a penalty kick by James, which resulted in the goal. Barsales reportedly injured as a result of that foul.

Kudos to Myanmar, that none of my fears in a previous blog happened. They simply outplayed us in the first half, but we proved we can outplay them when we bring our A-game which we did in the second half.

However, we cannot afford anymore games like this, where we play crappily in the first half. If the team is to advance, it has to bring its A-game all the way right from the first minute.

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