My 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup Diary

I just collected all my thoughts and posts in various outlets into this diary about the recently concluded Asian Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup which was held from November 19 to December 17, 2016:

November 19, 2016

Good game by the Azkals, their Passing and Possession game was pretty good, but without Javier Patino and Daisuke Sato the finishing just wasn’t there, unable to beat a team with only ten men after one of the Singaporeans accidentally kicked Phil Younghusband in the chest and was sent off on a Red Card.

The way things are shaping up now, I think Thailand and Indonesia will move on to the next round. But I think we still need to fully support the team, a prestigious tournament like this comes only once every two years, and remember that we are cohosting this event.

The other teams like Indonesia and Thailand would be great to watch also. There are still two game days left, on November 22 and 25, 2016.

November 20, 2016

Tuesday’s (November 22, 2016) game against Indonesia is a must win for the Azkals as whoever wins that game will likely move on to the next round. As for the Azkals lack of finishing, not sure what can be done about that, maybe put Phil Younghusband back to the Striker position, and/or Stephan Schrock up there up front and just find some other player/s to take their place in the Midfield.

Hikaru Minegeshi played a superb game, he had an immediate impact as soon as he entered the game. His speed gave the Singaporeans a lot of trouble in the counterattack, and the Azkals got a couple more chances at scoring a goal when he was there.

He gave a good case for himself to start instead of Iain Ramsay, but I think he is better coming off the bench to boost the team in the second half. Ramsay is still a quality player, I hope he finds his game soon with this team.

November 22, 2016

Another fantastic effort on the part of the Azkals, but they again had the same problem as they had before during their first game against Singapore: Inefficient Finishing. They managed to score two goals this time thru sheer effort alone, but in the end they dominated Possession and had a lot more Free and Corner Kicks, but could only show two goals for it courtesy of Misagh Bahadoran and Phil Younghusband, both coming from Free Kicks.

The problem with having an inefficient finishing is that it eventually made them vulnerable to Counter-Attacks, and Indonesia is one of the best Counter-Attacking teams in South East Asia (SEA). I also felt we were a bit lucky in this game as Indonesia had at least two attempts that hit the Goal Post. If just one of those balls made it thru the Goal, that would have been it for us.

The Azkals are now are in a difficult position of winning the game against a very tough Thailand team in order to move on to the next round. Realistically, I don’t see it happening, and whoever wins the Indonesia-Singapore game will be the one moving on to the next round. All the more the need to support the Azkals as this could be their last game in this year’s Suzuki Cup.

Moving forward after the Suzuki Cup, the team needs to find Forwards in the caliber for Javier Patino in order for it to beat the SEA teams consistently. Mike Ott and Kevin Ingreso were supposed to be those guys as they were quite prolific as Strikers in their Youth Clubs in Germany, but so far has been able to do the same at National Team level, so the search continues.

December 15, 2016

The Azkals have been long gone in this year’s Suzuki Cup, but Indonesia and Thailand are playing exceptional Football that they are well worth watching also.

Indonesia is the underdog in the finals since they already lost to Thailand 4-2 in the Elimination Stage and their Ground Game is not really as good or as flashy as that of Thailand.

But they are still quite dangerous because of their uncanny ability to finish or score goals. They won the first leg, 2-1 but the next game on Saturday (Dec. 17, 2016) will be in Thailand’s Home Pitch so it will be an uphill battle for them.

December 18, 2016

Thailand dominates Indonesia in their Home Pitch, 2-nil winning their second straight AFF Suzuki Cup Title and proving again that they are the best in South East Asia (SEA).

Thailand doesn’t play in a lot of international tournaments or friendlies, they tend to focus more on their local league which is one of the best in Asia. However, when they do play internationally, they have been consistently beating teams ranked below the 100 mark by FIFA for years now, indicating just how good they are. Hell, they even drew 2-all recently with Australia who is ranked below 50 right now by FIFA.

I am amazed with their frequent one-touch Passing and ability to dribble and maintain possession with the ball with two or three defenders, or even more against them in and around the opponent’s box. Only the very best of our Azkals like Stephan Schrock or Javier Patino can do that at SEA level.

Credit Indonesia for at least keeping this game close and not a blow out. They were handicapped since their National Team was only allowed to choose two players per ballclub when this team was formed. If they were allowed to go full force, they could have given Thailand even better opposition. But in the end I think Thailand would still win out.


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