Well, as expected, the Azkals lost to Thailand. I was still sort of hoping otherwise before this game, there was a lot of hype about it, there was even a call to arms by Azkals fans to go to the Philippine Sports Stadium (PSC) in Bulacan to show support for the team.
An acquaintance who is an avid Football fan even asked me on Facebook about it, he went but I just opted to watch the game on TV. And the Azkals fans were out in force tonight, filling the lower stands of the PSC which I think is about as good as it will get for that stadium and for the Azkals in this country.
The team started very shakily when Coach Thomas Dooley opted to rest some players after two hard games and put in some young players instead like Kenshiro Daniels and Marco Casambre, a teenager playing for Global FC.
Things improved a lot when he put in Misagh Bahadoran and James Younghusband right at the start of the Second Half, but the Thais were just too good at Midfield. We couldn’t really control the ball consistently for any length of time and thus it affected our offense.
The game also exposed how far we are really off from Thailand: They fielded in TEN new players in this game, it was basically their Second String team, and yet we couldn’t even beat them.
The foreign analysts at Fox Sports were merciless in their assessment of the Azkals’ stint in this tournament, calling it a “total disaster”, and they do have valid points. The Azkals was the highest ranked team in SEA by FIFA, and we were playing at home.
And for that, all we could show for was two Draws, one Loss and only two Goals in the entire tournament. And we scored those two Goals only on one game, going goalless in two games.
I think the team under Coach Dooley has improved a lot in terms of Passing and maintaining Possession, but in the end Football is still about scoring Goals, and the team just couldn’t do that.
Things are a bit hazy now for the Azkals, not sure where the team will go next. It seems to have hit a plateau now as far as the team is concerned. And most of the star players are getting on with age already.
Stephan Schrock, Phil Younghusband, James Younghusband and even Bahadoran are either in or very near 30 years old already, hence they are only good for only a couple more years. Time now for the next generation of players to take over, but so far I can’t see anybody good enough to take their place for now or in the near future.
I just hope that this won’t mean that the Golden Age of the Azkals will soon be over.