Icheon Citizen FC Edges the Azkals United on Penalites, 4-2

Azkals United Starting XI: Backline – Rob Gier, Jerry Barbaso, Nestor Magarse, Roel Gener; Midfield – Misagh Bahadoran, Chieffy Caligdong, Angel Guirado, Carli de Murgia; Forward – Ian Araneta, Dennis Wolf

Attendance was pretty good, the Rizal Memorial Stadium was around 75% full. Good public relations opportunity for Kia also to make a big launch for their latest car model.

Third Division in South Korea is definitely nowhere as good as third division in Spain, and this Incheon City FC is not anywhere as good as CF Internaccional de Madrid. They were closer to our level, which made for a pretty exciting match. The Azkals United had some pretty good ballhandlers on the pitch, and between Chieffy Caligdong, Dennis Wolf, Misagh Bahadoran, and Angel Guirado, we controlled majority possession of the ball. It looked to be easily 60-40% ball possession in our favor.

The big problem with the Azkals United, though, was their F-I-N-I-S-H-I-N-G. We just didn’t have that in this game. Dennis Wolf particularly had around four shots on goal which he muffed. If Phil Younghusband had been in his place, that would’ve at least two goals for the Azkals right there.

I felt a win here was important as this would be one of the few matches this year where the Azkals will have a good chance of winning. Most of our other scheduled opponents are pretty tough, we will not have the same chance again of winning a game as this one. But, still, despite the loss, I enjoyed seeing the Azkals dominate possession in the game for once.

‘Individual Performances’
Despite his lack of finishing skills, Wolf showed great first touch, and decent ballhandling in his debut with the Azkals. I think he should play in the United Football League (UFL), though, instead of 4th Division in Germany. I wouldn’t be surprised if offers comes his way after this game, and he would be a good addition to the Azkals and Philippine Football.

I love the way Misagh Bahadoran plays. He has an excellent first touch, and is a fantastic and flashy ballhandler. This is the first time in a long while he has started for the Azkals, and he had a great overall performance on both ends of the pitch. But if there is a chink in his armor, it is his finishing. He just lacks it at this point. There was an instance where he got away from two defenders using a flashy backheel dribble, but muffed his shot straight into the goalkeeper. Him on the right wing and Chieffy on the left wing makes for very fast midfielders on the wings, improving the Azkals’ attacking options. And that superb first touch of his also enables him to maintain good possession of those long balls. Defensively, he also played very well, clearing off a couple of threats throughout the game.

Nice to see Angel playing around 100% again after a couple of months. He was a major factor on midfield, allowing the Azkals to maintain good possession of the ball. But he needs to improve on his passing, they weren’t very accurate. This was the same problem we’ve seen with him before as a midfielder.

Our backline of Gier, Margarse, Gener and Barbaso, along with De Murgia at Defensive Midfield played very well in the game, consistently neutralizing Icheon’s attacks time and again, and keeping them from increasing their lead. They all had their good moments at one time or another.

Eduard Sacapano did well in the game, but was a major disappointment in the penalty shootout. He 0 for 4 in stopping those penalty shots, he just conveyed too much which side he was going to defend instead of reacting to his opponent’s shots.

‘Loyola-Meralco and Kaya Villains’
If we had our best players in this game, like the Younghusband brothers, Mark Hartmann and Anton Del Rosario, I think we would’ve easily won this game by at least two goals. Which makes me even more pissed off at Loyola Meralco Sparks and Kaya FC. I can’t believe Manny Pangilinan would leave his players out of the national team. I thought he’d be more understanding, after all, he has had a lot of experience in that area when the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) didn’t let their players play with the Smart Gilas National Basketball team.

As for Kaya, they always have played the villain when it comes to national service. Ever since last year, they started balking at lending their players to the Azkals, and they finally made good on their word in this game. What’s worst is that a lot of the Azkals play for that damn team. If that fucking owner is too stingy about his investment with the team, then perhaps he shouldn’t be fielding a team at all. I hope the bastard never wins a championship in the UFL.

‘Future Azkals Lineup’
I like this Azkals United lineup. I think a few tweaks here and there, and it would be a good team to have in the future. If we are to put up a lineup for the Azkals based on the players playing now in the Philippines, I would base it on this team.

The ideal lineup would probably be something like this: Backline – Rob Gier, Gerry Barbaso, Anton Del Rosario, Jason Sabio; Midfield – Misagh Bahadoran, Chieffy Caligdong, Angel Guirado, James Younghusband; Forward – Phil Younghusband, Nate Burkey

With all due respect to Lexton Moy, I think Weiss should start Misagh ahead of him, as Misagh can do all the things that Lexton can, including hustle and play defense, plus a lot more. With his superb ballhandling, he can be an attacking option, at the same time help control that midfield.

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