Azkals vs. Hong Kong, September 30, 2011

Below are my notes for the Azkals-Hong Kong game in the 2011 Long Teng Cup as aired on Studio 23 on Friday, September 30, 2011, starting at 9:30 pm.

‘Pre-Game’
What the heck is Ronnie Nathanielsz doing on the panel for Studio 23? What are his credentials that would warrant him to be a Football “Expert”?

I was wondering about the same thing about Chris Soler, who writes an online column for the “Inbounds Pass” website about Basketball. But in fairness, he does seem to do know a lot about Football also.

One good thing about having the Azkals on ABS-CBN, is the fact that they arguably have the best Football commentators in the country right now in Bob Guerrero and Darren Hartmann. Darren is a wealth of Football information, especially in terms of the tactics and strategies, something I haven’t seen with Anthony Suntay, Jason Webb and Ryan Fenix. Bob compliments him nicely, as he also seems to know much about international Football.

It looks like 99% of the Filipino fans who watched the game live were women. Jason De Jong, Carli De Murga and Darren Hartmann weren’t singing during the Philippine National Anthem. Perhaps they don’t know the lyrics to it yet.

Azkals’ Starting Eleven: (Goalkeeper) Ronald Muller; (Backline) Aly Borromeo, Roel Gener, Oliver Poetschke, Matthew Hartmann; (Midfield) Jason De Jong, Carli De Murgia, James Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong; (Forward) Phil Younghusband, Angel Guirado

‘First Half’
The Azkals are playing in black.

Shit. Goal by Hong Kong right in the second minute by Hong Kong’s number 9.

Hong Kong gets their second goal in the 22nd minute off a mistake by Matthew Hartmann on the left flank, with his man getting away resulting in a cross that was finished nicely by a “Hongkie” player.

Phil Younghusband shoots a goal off a Penalty Kick in the 29th minute, but it was ruled off when Chieffy was caught encroaching into the box before the kick was made. Phil again had to take another Penaly Kick, and makes it on the 31st minute. Almost a costly mistake by Caligdong for the Azkals.

Chieffy Caligdong equalizes for the Azkals in the 44th minute. PYH gave a good pass to Chieffy on the left inside the box from the center. Chieffy then had to create his own shot, and scores the goal off a shot from the left flank.

Not an impressive debut for Roland Mueller as he conceded two goals in his first 45 minutes as an Azkal Goalkeeper. He did make a number of great saves also, and has shown a lot of leadership organizing the defense during corners and free kicks, shouting off instructions all over the pitch. It doesn’t seem he is in the caliber of Neil Etheridge, though (then again, not many GK in the world are EPL material).

The Azkals seemed a bit disorganized, hence giving up two goals, while the Hong Kong side was playing with a lot of fluidity. Despite that, the Azkals was able to equalize the score at the half. I feel that the Azkals team that played against Kuwait would’ve definitely drubbed this Hong Kong team.

‘Second Half’
Mark Hartmann (the other Hartmann sibling on this team) makes his international debut with the Azkals, coming in for Roel Gener at the half.

Surprisingly, the normally “nice” Angel Guirado picks up a Yellow Card in the 53rd minute off what looks like a dive by a Hong Kong player.

Chieffy Caligdong picks up a Yellow Card in the 59th minute off an altercation with a Hong Kong player. Then, probably because of that altercation, he goes around and scores another goal in the 61st minute, again creating his own shot, dribbling from the left towards the center then hitting a strong shot. Chieffy is really unstoppable if given the chance, no wonder they were double-teaming him during the Kuwait series after he scored a couple of goals in exhibition matches in Bahrain.

Hong Kong defender number 13 gets his second Yellow Card in the 63rd minute and gets sent off from the game. That guy has a penchant for tugging the shirt of the player he is defending, as he did the same also with PYH which resulted in that Penalty Kick in the First Half.

Hong Kong suddenly becomes more aggressive on offense after that 3rd Azkal goal, making successive shots on goal and corners.

Caligdong goes down due to cramps in the 73rd minute, and had to be sent off from the game. Jeffrey Christiaens comes in for him.

Second time I have seen Mark Hartmann and PYH with nice teamwork, with PYH passing to Mark then Mark with a return pass off a backheel that results in a shot for PYH. The other time was during the Azkals-Global FC match about a week ago. Shot was deflected, though.

Heartbreak for the Azkals. Hong Kong hits the post off a Free Kick, but another Hong Kong player scores off a second effort in the 84th minute. The Azkals’ defense was doing well in holding off Hong Kong, and it seems the only way they could score a goal was off a Free Kick, which they did.
Near goal by Mark Hartmann off a beautiful lob pass by Angel in the center. He was one on one against the GK, but just couldn’t finish it.

Roland Muller again made a couple of great saves in the second half, almost making up for the three goals that he had conceded in this game. Kinda mixed about his performance. He had some good qualities, but the most important thing for me are the conceded goals, which he already has three in one game alone. Its not as if the other team was really strong, like Kuwait.

‘Game Summary’
Wasn’t really impressed with the way the Azkals played in this game. Hong Kong clearly had the better passing game, especially on offense. It seems they were generally disorganized on both ends of the home pitch. Chieffy’s goals materialized mainly on individual effort, there weren’t a lot of cohesiveness on offense. Defense was better in the second half, but they still conceded a goal.

They’re up against another difficult game against Chinese Taipei on Sunday, before an expected easy game against Macau.

Faaking Ronnie Nathanielsz on the panel of “experts” was talking about “Schrock” when he wasn’t even in the game, eliciting puzzled looks and queries from the other panelists. ABS-CBN could do itself a favor and keep that guy out of Football. Let him continue to do damage with Boxing and Basketball if he wants, but not Football.

Chieffy scores his first “away” goals for the Azkals in 2011, at least in an “official” match. His other two official international goals were scored in home games.

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