Azkals vs. Chicago Inferno, August 12, 2012

August 15, 2012 at the Joe Bean Stadium in Chicago, USA, for the Azkals Exhibition Game against the Chicago Inferno: The Chicago Inferno beats the Azkals, 3-1.

Starting XI: Goalkeeper – Ed Sacapano; Defenders – Jason De Jong, Carli De Murga, Jason Sabio, Chris Greatwich; Midfielders – Jeffrey Christaens, Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles, Chieffy Caligdong; Forwards – Denis Wolf, Ian Araneta

Substitutes: Matthew Uy, Demetrius Omphroy, Patrick Reichelt, Marvin Angeles, OJ Porteria

‘First Half Summary’
The Azkals used their veterans in the first half, and it was an ugly game for the team. The Infernos scored three different ways against the Azkals in the first 45 minutes, with the first goal coming in at only 7 minutes into the match. First they scored of a long shot from outside the box; Then they scored off a chip in over Sacapano’s head from inside the box; And then last, they scored off a Free Kick.

The Azkals actually had good chances in the early minutes of the game with 2 or three good shots on goal, but it was downhill from there when the Infernos started adjusting to our long balls and pressuring us on defense. We had trouble making good passes or crosses into the box, with their defense effectively disrupting our player’s attempts.

Weiss sent the youngsters in the second half, including the Fil-American aspirants in Demetrius Omphroy and Matthew Uy. I think they ALL made significant impact on the game, as the Infernos were unable to score a goal in that half, while we were able to sneak one in on our own. What is more impressive is the fact that our offense got better with more good attempts on goal DESPITE the fact that we played with a deeper line into our half of the field.

You’d think that by playing defensively, our offense would be less, but that was not the case. We retained the ball better despite the Inferno’s defense, and made better short passes in traffic. We were also more active on the pitch in terms of retaining balls, and moving forward on offense.

‘Azkals Individual Performance’
Among the veterans, it was only Carli De Murga who played consistently well thoughout the game. He was moving the ball forward and making decent crosses time and again. And it is only fitting for him to be the one scoring the lone goal for the Azkals. The rest of the veterans weren’t anywhere near as impressive.

Among the youngsters, Patrick Reichelt played best, making two good headers, and making that cross from the right side to Carli that resulted in the Azkals goal. I think Reichelt is making a strong statement for starting the next game against the US Virgin Islands, possibly ahead of Ian Araneta. He is younger, faster, and has a better all-around game than Ian.

Though not as visible, OJ Porteria I felt played well, winning balls, making some good short passes. The same with Matthew Uy and Demetrius Omphroy, who were vital cogs in the better game of the Azkals in the second half.

Ed Sacapano again conceded multiple goals. I frankly have not seen an international game by Ed wherein he conceded less than 2 goals, much less a clean slate. To be fair, he did have a clean slate in the second half, but this was due to the Azkals’ more defensive play. But then again that goes to show that Ed just cannot be trusted on his own to defend the goal well, he needs the CONSTANT support of his defensive line.

‘Parting Shot’
Another game of two halves for the Azkals. Most of the veterans disappointed the team in the first half, while the youngsters stepped up their game and delivered in the second half. I feel that the youngsters should be rewarded with more playing time against the US Virgin Islands by way of their better performance. The Azkals’ playing time should always be based on MERIT, and nothing else.

Weiss cannot afford to lose to the USVI team, they are ranked lower by FIFA and if we lose to them in the official match our rankings will be dragged down, to say the least.


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