Azkals vs. Guam Matao, June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod, Philippines, for the Azkals Friendly game against Guam: The Azkals rout Guam, 3-0.

Starting XI: Goalkeeper – Neil Etheridge; Defenders – Dennis Cagara, Carli De Murga, Jason Sabio, Rob Gier; Midfielders – James Younghusband, Marwin Angeles, Anghel Guirado, Jerry Lucena; Forwards – Denis Wolf, Phil Younghusban

Substitutes: Misagh Bahadoran, Jason De Jong, Anto Gonzales, Jeffrey Christaens

‘Game Summary’
The Azkals had a great first half, scoring three goals. It took them only 8 minutes to score their first goal, and another 4 minutes to score the next one. I actually thought the Azkals would score a total of 4 goals at the end of the first half, but it seems they were in a “forgiving” mood in this game, hence you can see them sort of relax and hold back a little after that second goal.

Proof of this was the fact that they did not score the third goal until the 47th minute, at the end of the first half. I thought we would score another 2 or 3 more goals in the second half, but it was not to be. Not for the lack of trying, though, as there was a lot of good opportunities to do so for the Azkals. But they couldn’t, mainly because of the lack of finishing skills of some of them.

It is quite ironic that two Fil-Spaniards (Carli De Murga and Anghel Guirado) scored all the goals for the Azkals this Independence Day, reminding everyone of our long colonization under Spain.

‘The Mataos’
None of the Mataos left a great impression on me, although there were one or two players who did well on defense. You have to give them credit, though, for not giving up the entire game in terms of trying to score a goal. They just kept moving forward, not thinking of the score and just trying to learn as much as possible as they can against a stronger team.

We’ve seen teams like Sri Lanka and Nepal which sort of lost steam after we started scoring goals against them in our home games, but these Guanamanians, they never surrendered mentally and started playing lackadaisically. They should keep this up, its a great spirit to have for any team playing for their country.

‘The Azkals’
Good to see Anghel Guirado finally scoring some goals, Gad knows he had been trying hard the last couple of games, always playing with a lot of intensity, very hardworking in terms of moving forward for the Azkals. He is the only other Azkal so far aside from Phil Younghusband who has scored more than 2 goals for the team in 2012. And this is his first Brace for the Azkals since that game against Bangladesh in 2011.

Carli De Murga opens his goal account for the Azkals, he had been quite offense-minded lately for Global FC, scoring a couple of goals in the UFL. He was critical part of the Azkals offense with his overlaps, also resulting in two good passes to Denis Wolf inside the box but which Wolf muffed.

For me, Marwin Angeles was the Man of the Match for this team, if only for his fantastic one-touch passing. He didn’t just make one or two this time around, but at least half a dozen or so, one of which resulted in that goal by Carli De Murga. I have to say he is probably one of the best One-Touch Passer among the Azkals right now, next to James Younghusband.

What Carli was doing in the right flank, Denis Cagara is doing on the left flank with his overlaps. Ray Jonsson normally does that on the right flank, but he is in his mid-thirties already, so it is good to see a younger guy like Denis whom we know that torch will be passed on to sooner or later. He continued to deliver those nice Free or Corner Kicks, with one of his Free Kicks finally paying off at long last with a goal as it was headed in by Anghel.

The Younghusbands were sort of off in this game, I sort of felt that they were trying to let their other teammates get their goals by acting as decoys and concentrating more on passing or setting up their teammates. They did have their chances, especially Phil, but they were double or triple teamed everytime they came near the box.

I liked the fact that Weiss kept both of them all throughout the game, because as long as they are there, our opponents will always have to keep one eye on them because they know how good they are, and that opens up better scoring opportunities for the other Azkals. Like it or not, the Azkals offense will always revolve around those two.

Our backline did well, making some good last minute plays against a determined and undeterred Guam squad who kept moving forward.

Denis Wolf played badly for the team. As a Football player, he has many sterling qualities, like his ability to push the ball forward. But finishing is not one of those sterling qualities, as he had three great chances to score in front of the goal, two off good passes by Carli, and he muffed it all. I think this is why he is only in the 5th Division of the Bundesliga. One wonders, if he can’t finish consistently against a weak team like Guam, then how much more against stronger teams?

Neil Etheridge had some good saves, but had a little bit of showboating in the first half, outdribbling a Guam player in front of the goal instead of going down and picking it up. That must’ve given Weiss fits. A sign of immaturity of an impulsive young man. I hope he grows out of it soon.

Misagh Bahadoran had some good plays on both ends of the pitch, this must be his “good” game as he tends to be a bit erratic with the quality of his minutes with the Azkals. Hope to see him open his goal-scoring account with the Azkals soon.

‘Final Notes’
Although the attendance was good, I was surprised to see some empty spaces in the stadium. Probably because unlike the home game last year against Mongolia, this time the game was not free. And the ticket prices were higher than in Rizal Memorial Stadium (RMS), too. Nevertheless, Panaad was around 90% full, and definitely more people came to watch than the home game against Indonesia at RMS last week.

I still feel Panaad is one of the most important, if not the most important pitch in the Philippines, and deserves to be upgraded to World-Class standards whenever we can. And more home games should be held there if possible.

A good result for the Azkals, I felt before the game we should win by more than 2 goals, and we did, at the same time maintaining a clean sheet at home. Could’ve been better, but I felt more satisfied after this match.

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