Azkals vs. Myanmar White Angels, November 30, 2012

November 30, 2012 at the Supachalasai Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand for the Azkals’ third Quarterfinals game in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup against the Myanmar White Angels: The Azkals beat the White Angels, 2-0.

Active Azkals Players:
(Goalkeeper) – Ed Sacapano
(Defenders) – Carli De Murga, Rob Gier, Juani Guirado, Dennis Cagara
(Midfielders) – James Younghusband, Paul Mulders, Jason De Jong, Patrick Reichelt
(Forwards) – Dennis Wolf, Phil Younghusband
(Substitutes) – Anghel Guirado, Chieffy Caligdong, Demit Omphroy

‘Game Observations’
Credit the White Angels for playing their hearts out and making a great game out of this one. The game was actually a lot closer than it looks, with the opening goal by the Azkals coming in only in the second half, and the insurance goal coming in late in stoppage time. Myanmar played fantastic defense against our short game, disrupting your attacks in the final third of the pitch again and again.

They also contained our attackers well, often putting two or three people on Azkals making their individual runs on the middle and in the flanks. Despite the help out defense, they were still quick enough to recover when the pass is made to another player. Just a lot of heart and effort for any team to be able to do that most of the game. As a result, our two goals have had to come off long balls, punctuated by individual brilliance.

Our defense was a little bit porous for my taste, with Myanmar getting a few good shots on our goal which, were they done by players with a little bit more quality, would’ve resulted in a goal or so. Two of their headers from inside the box came close, just going a little wide off the posts, and another two of their crosses were luckily plucked by Ed Sacapano before the receiving players got to it. Maybe it’s because of the tired, aging legs after playing three games in nine days, or the team was just a little complacent, but not really the best performance by the Backline.

Myanmar also played a very physical defense, perhaps they were hoping to unnerve our players or put their minds out of the game, which is probably what they thought happened in our game against Thailand. Their number 10 player was particularly notorious for that, knocking down Carli De Murga by bumping his shoulder to De Murga’s head, and then later knocking down Rob Gier with his elbow. I felt that Jason De Jong’s hard tackle that resulted in a Yellow Card was a statement to the Angels, saying that we weren’t going to be intimidated by them. Credit the team for never losing focus of the game despite the physical play.

‘Individual Performances’
Another Clean Sheet for Ed “EdSa” Sacapano, who had a couple of saves, including the crosses mentioned above, and also catching a strong, dangerous Mid Range Shot from the middle by David Htan. He may lack height, but EdSa’s reflexes and quickness definitely more than made up for it.

Patrick Reichelt played shitty today, he couldn’t get anything going on that Left Flank. Probably due to a couple of factors, like those loose teeth bothering him, and that he was well-scouted, often attracting two or three defenders on him when me makes his run. The Myanmar Right Back David Htan also had his number, keeping in step with him and disrupting his runs.

After two scoreless games, Phil Younghusband finally got his offense in track in this game by scoring that goal. He was really looking to score in this game, taking three very good Mid Range Shots early in the game, at least showing everyone that the Azkals do have that shot in their arsenal also. Note the PYH’s goal was done with his weaker foot, his left foot, and despite that his aim and control of the ball was still deadly, strong and precise, slotting that shot on the best possible angle, on the upper left corner of the goal. He is truly ambidextrous, one of the reasons why he is such a great Striker for the Philippines.

Anghel Guirado played his heart out. His attacks were often disrupted when he was double or triple teamed, ending in his dispossession. But he never gave up, hence that goal coming in late in stoppage time when finally was able to break away from the tired legs of his defenders and make that goal. Another shot taken with the weaker left foot, faking off the Goalkeeper by pushing the ball slightly to the left and then slotting it in on the right side of the goal.

Dennis Cagara did a mighty good job of containing Kyi Lin. He wasn’t able to stop all of his crosses or his runs, but he did contain most of them, often making beautiful tackles and kicking the ball to safety. This forced Kyi Lin to try moving to the center where our defense was packed, rather than try to continue attacking the flanks. I wonder why they didn’t have him try out the other side, though, seeing that Cagara was effectively containing him.

I’ve always thought Jason De Jong was shitty with his long balls, but he got lucky this time around, making that outlet pass to PYH which resulted in the goal.

‘Parting Shot’
It was not an easy game for us as expected, but credit the Coaching Staff for making the great adjustments in the Second Half on offense. Seeing how our ground game and individual attacks were stymied by the opposing team, they made the adjustments on varying the offense and making some long balls to catch the White Angels off guard when we switched our offense, and it resulted in two goals.

A lot of history made with this win:
– First time we beat Myanmar in our Football history, with the previous meetings coming in with either Draws or Losses;
– First time the Philippines makes it to the Suzuki Cup Semi-Finals twice in a row;
– First time the Philippines hosts a home game in the Suzuki Cup.

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