Azkals vs. Taiwan, October 2, 2011

Below are my notes for the Azkals-Taiwan game in the 2011 Long Teng Cup as aired on Studio 23 on Sunday, October 2, 2011, starting at 5:30 pm.

‘Pre-Game’
Ronnie Nathanielsz must really have strong connections with ABS-CBN, they can’t seem to get rid of that moron from the panel of Football “Experts”. Dyan Castillejo I think is better suited as “On-The-Ground” Reporter, rather than being in a panel inside a studio. Then she can give more valuable inside news about the Azkals, about their morale, player and team developments, etc.

I find it strange that ABS-CBN could not air live the Azkals-Hong Kong game last Friday, but then spends a full 1 1/2 hours for pre-game analysis on this weekend game. No, that will not make up for that inability to air the Friday game live. Football is best viewed live, when you don’t know who and when the goals will come.

I watched the first 30 minutes of the pre-game, then sort of tuned in and out for the rest of the hour.

One big question for me in this game, would be, will Mark Hartmann be fielded in this game, after complaining this morning on his Twitter account about not starting for the Azkals, and threatening to go back to the UK?

And another question: How will Darren Hartmann react to his brother’s Twitter outburst?

I think the Azkals will win in this game. We drew them before with a weaker lineup, so we SHOULD be able to win this time with a stronger lineup. The only question is the cohesion. Will the new Azkals combination on defense get their act together, and keep the (who has been playing together since at least last year) Taiwanese off?

Good to see the mainly Spanish-speaking Angel Guirado singing the Philippine National Anthem, along with Phil and James Younghusband. Matthew Hartmann kept his mouth shut, though, the only one in that starting lineup. He needs to learn the “Lupang Hinirang” fast, especially if he is going to starting a lot with the U23 Azkals.

Azkals’ Starting Eleven: (Goalkeeper) Ronald Muller; (Backline) Aly Borromeo, Oliver Poetschke, Carli De Murgia, Nickson Leonora; (Midfield) Matthew Hartmann, James Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong, Angel Guirado; (Forward) Ian Araneta, Phil Younghusband.

‘First Half’
The Azkals are playing in white.

Chieffy down after a hard tackle in the 3rd minute clutching his left shin, but goes back to play after spending some time down.

Azkals backline and midfield playing fantastic defense in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Taiwanese couldn’t get a good shot in the game. The Azkals also are attacking well.

Phil had a couple of good breakaway and crosses in the game, but often there’s only Guirado and Araneta in the box with him. We need more Azkals on that box, Weiss might have to rethink his formation and allow a more offensive formation. I think we can take this Taiwanese squad.

These Taiwanese are playing dirty on homecourt. Lots of physical play from them, lots of play acting, and were even allowed a very quick free kick that allowed a breakaway from the Taiwanese.

Azkals making runs on offense one after the another. Guirado was fantastic on defense, making dispossessions, and moving the ball forward.

We definitely have the dominant possession, but Taiwan has been making the most of their lesser possessions, making a couple of good runs and good shots on goal, forcing Muller to make a couple of good saves.

‘First Half Analysis’
What I like about this Taiwanese team, is their efficiency. Despite their limited possession, they have been making the more dangerous shots. Us, on the other hand, has been very inefficient, unable to capitalize on our attempts at the goal. Either our crosses end up to nobody, or we take shots that are too long. Thus Taiwan remains to be a dangerous team at this point. At the rate we are going, it would be lucky for us to score a goal in this game.

What I don’t like about these Taiwanese, is the fact that they are willing to do anything to win the game, like a lot of playacting. Minimal contact, and they go down as if they lost their legs or knees.

Surprised to see the half-time stats say that the Taiwanese have dominant possession, it didn’t look that way when I was watching the game.

In the second half, I would take out Ian Araneta, and put in Mark Hartmann or Misagh Bahadoran in there. Ian is fast, and good with headers, but I don’t think he has the ballhandling ability to create his own shots, or make good passes. Besides, he and PYH has not been working well out there on offense. So 1 or 2 changes need to be made, we need to take some risk to salvage a win against these Taiwanese team.

‘Second Half’
Jeffrey Christiaens comes in for Chieffy Caligdong in the second half. Chieffy has been neutralized in this game after scoring two goals against Hong Kong. They’ve been double or triple teaming him whenever he has the chance.

The fucking Taiwanese keep playacting. They’re not fooling anybody, as the replays show the lack of any significant contact. What is happening, though, is that they are eating up the clock, while the referees end up making minimal additions in stoppage time, therefore shortening the game.

Lexton Moy comes in on the 74th minute of the game for Ian Araneta. Lexton moves to midfield, while Guirado moves higher in the pitch. But Guirado has been playing well all game long, I feel it is not good to ask him to force a goal out of desperation. Better to have fresh legs come in at Forward to try to score a goal.

Matthew has been making shitty passes to the flanks all game long. I don’t think he will do for the Azkals at midfield, if he keeps doing this.

Oliver Poetschke and Carli De Murgia has been doing very good defense off the flanks. I think we may have found our next generation of defenders for the Azkals.

‘Game Summary’
Angel picked up his second Yellow Card in this game, meaning he will at least be missing the next game. Good thing it will be against Macau, but its interesting who they will be starting in his stead in that game.

Well, Mark Hartmann was not fielded in at all in this game after his Twitter outburst. His brother, Darren, did not get to comment about the issue during his commentaries.

Roland Muller played a much better game today, making many good saves and keeping the sheet clean against the Azkals. However, he needs help. If the defense are not working hard, he can’t make it on his own. Also, I’d like to see him play against more tough teams before I make a more solid opinion of him.

The Taiwanese are SHAMELESS on their home pitch. They use all the trick in the book, you name it, they will do it at home: Play acting, showing cleats, biased referrees, etc. However, I feel the bigger problem with the Azkals, is their lack of fluidity on offense, to consistently have that so-called “Final Goal”. That usually is the mark of a really good team, so unless we can go out and do just that, I don’t think we can consider this team as “really good”.

For example, I really can’t remember them scoring off a good passing play consistently, like a cross that hits the right man at just the right time. Unless somebody comes up with a brilliant, individual play like what Chieffy did in the first game, then the Azkals have problems scoring.

Another draw against a strong Asian team. We keep drawing them, but we never seem to be able to WIN against them. Hence we can expect our FIFA rankings to go down, again.

I expect the goals to come on their last game against Macau. That is a lighter opponent, I hope I will not be disappointed. Again.

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