Azkals vs. Taiwan, September 29, 2012

September 29, 2012 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, Philippines for the Azkals’ third and final game in the 2012 Peace Cup against Taiwan: The Azkals win over Taiwan, 3-1.

Starting XI:
(Goalkeeper) – Ed Sacapano
(Defenders) – Jeffrey Christaens, Carli De Murga, Jason De Jong, Matthew Uy
(Midfielders) – Demetrius Omphroy, Anto Gonzales, Patrick Reichelt, Chieffy Caligdong (Forwards) – Denis Wolf, OJ Porteria
(Substitutes) – Lexton Moy, Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles, Marvin Angeles

‘Game Summary’
The team had a fantastic first half, continuing on their superb play in their last game against Macau in terms of their passing game, and more importantly with their finishing, scoring three goals in that half alone. Taiwan was no pushover, though, they definitely were our toughest opponent in the tournament, we were not able to dominate possession as well as we had in the Macau game.

We had a mediocre second half though, conceding one goal while scoring none, and getting a Penalty Shot which fortunately was saved by Ed Sacapano. Its a good thing that we had a comfortable three goal cushion coming into that half. As for Taiwan, had they not made those two passing errors in their box in the first half that resulted in goals for the Azkals, they would’ve instead tied the game and the momentum would’ve been on their side.

Much of the Azkals momentum I felt was lost in the second half when the game was delayed for eleven minutes due to a Taiwanese official’s insistence on staying on the bench despite being thrown out of the game due to excessive complaining on what he felt should’ve been a Penalty Shot. The Azkals sort of played flat after that, perhaps being gracious hosts and not wanting to have any sort of animosity in winning the title.

‘Individual Performances’
In this game, another new set of players played well to lead the team. This time, it was Anto Gonzales and Matthew Uy. Anto showed the form that established his reputation as one of the country’s best Defensive Midfielders among the players and coaches, and that is his ability to disrupt plays, and win possessions against opposing players. In the first half alone, he had at least half a dozen very visible dispossessions of opponents, and then pushing the ball forward. He sort of slacked off in second half, but his contribution was very significant in defense and driving the Azkals offense.

Matthew Uy played his best game in the tournament. He is quite stocky, even downright fat, and sometimes I wonder what the hell is this fat kid playing at this level of Football? But he has a great first touch, and excellent ball control. Once he gets the ball, it was almost impossible for the opponents to disposses him. And he also is a pretty good passer, not so much with his thru balls, but more of his long balls or even chip shots. He partnered very well with Anto, with the two establishing a solid line of defense in the middle.

Good to see OJ Porteria score his first goal for the main Azkals team, he has got to be one of the youngest Filipino Football players to have done so. It would be mighty interesting to which school he will be playing for in the Philippines. I expect him to dominate in the local college Football scene with his skill and experience. After all, how many local college players already has scored their first goal with the main National Football team?

It seems Demet’s game has gone down in stages compared to his first game, I think you can blame that to fatigue, perhaps worsened a bit by his current condition. Patrick Reichelt continued to play well, at least in the first half, driving the ball forward and making excellent passes to his teammates in the middle.

Jason De Jong played well most of the tournament, but conceded a Penalty Kick in the second half due to a clumsy challenge. He can’t tackle players like he used to be before at Center Defense as he will likely be doing it inside the box. I think he knows this, but just can’t help himself sometimes. He needs to play smarter, and play better in terms of his timing and anticipation.

‘Parting Shot’
Excellent first half, but ugly second half, good thing we got a bit lucky. I actually expected at least one more goal from the team in the second half, but it was not to be. However, the team wins the game with a comfortable lead, and wins the tournament in the process.

Pretty good turnout, not full house as expected, but the Center Grandstand and Center Bleachers section were filled, with only the Bleachers section behind the goals unfilled. I would estimate about 12,000 people in the audience for this game, pretty good for an Azkals game at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum these days.

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