Azkals 2011 Full-Year Statistics

The 2011 season is over for the Azkals, having played their last offical FIFA-sanctioned match for 2011 against Nepal’s Gorkhalis last October 11, 2011. Below are some of the stats I have gathered for the Azkals games from January to October 2011. These stats cover only the FIFA-sanctioned tournament games and international friendlies, and does not cover international or local exhibition matches.

They are also definitely not complete, as these are only gathered from news accounts, internet columns, etc. as I followed the team thru the season. I do hope that the Azkals release an official summary of the season, with more accurate official statistics, so we can study their performance better.

‘Tournaments and Games’
The Azkals played in 4 tournaments, and 2 friendly games in 2011. The 2 friendly games were against Singapore (away) and Nepal (home). The 4 tournaments were the following:
– 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Qualification Playoffs, 2 games against Mongolia.
– 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Qualification Group Stage, 3 games against Myanmar, Palestine and Bangladesh.
– 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualification (First and Second Rounds), 4 games against Sri Lanka and Kuwait.
– 2011 Long Teng Cup, 3 games against Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
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Azkals vs. Nepal, October 11, 2011

Below are my notes for the Azkals-Nepal International Friendly game as aired on Studio 23 on Tuesday, October 11, 2011, starting at 7:00 pm.

‘Prologue’
After that loss to Singapore, I am wary about this game against Nepal. Perhaps playing on home turf will be enough for the team to consistently find that Final Ball.

This game is the last chance for the main Azkals team to beat (not draw, or lose) to a higher FIFA-ranked team. The next opportunity will probably occur in a couple of months, sometime early next year. It is also the last game of the Azkals this year. After this game, you will only see the Azkals with their respective UFL teams until 2012.

‘The Gorkhalis’
Nepal is ranked a step higher than Singapore, which means more bad news for the Azkals. I think they are here mainly on a probing mission, to gauge the Azkals’ strengths and weaknesses. They probably think that knowing the Azkals now will give them an advantage when we play on THEIR home pitch next year.

The Gorkhalis (as they are known), are a team on the rise, rising 35 points in the FIFA rankings in a space of only seven months, from number 172 in March 2011, to its current position of number 135. This year, they lost to North Korea (an Asian Superpower in Football) by only one goal, and was able to draw with Jordan on their home pitch (though they did lose to the Jordanians 9-0 on the away game). So I expect this to be a tough game for the Azkals.
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Azkals vs. Singapore, October 7, 2011

Below are my notes for the Azkals-Singapore International Friendly game as aired on Studio 23 on Friday, October 7, 2011, starting at 6:30 pm.

‘Pre-Game’
My expectations of this game is definitely a win. Again, anything less, is a disappointment. One of the goals for having this friendly series, was to climb up the FIFA rankings again by beating teams ranked higher than us. This we failed to do in the 2011 Long Teng Cup, and we are now hoping to do it with these next two games.

Looking at my records, we have NOT won a single game this year against a team ranked higher than us. We either drew, or lost to them. All of our four wins this year were against lower ranking teams.

Only Chris Soler and Rudy Del Rosario on the panel, no Ronnie Nathanielsz at last. I think its better, but only two people talking about Football for about an hour is not enough, I think they need to put in one more expert. A real expert, not Ronnie Nathanielsz.

Azkals’ Starting Eleven: (Goalkeeper) Neil Etheridge; (Backline) Aly Borromeo, Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena, Ray Jonsson; (Midfield) Paul Mulders, Jason De Jong, James Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong; (Forwards) Phil Younghusband, Angel Guirado.
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Azkals 2011 Long Teng Cup Stint Reflections

‘Team Objectives’
I felt one objective for playing in this tournament, was to have the chance to beat stronger teams and improve on our FIFA rankings. That did not happen, as we ended up drawing both Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Another objective was perhaps for the Azkals to finally win an international tournament, which they obviously has not done so far. Again, that did not happen, as we came up empty-handed in this tournament.

We did end up as runner-up, but only because of events that was out of our hands. It was more due to luck than anything else, when Hong Kong routed Taiwan instead of the draw or close game that we were expecting. We couldn’t even blowout a lowly team like Macau, only scoring two goals against them when the other teams were beating by larger margins.

One positive thing I CAN say about this stint, was that it enabled us to have “softer” introduction of the U23 players to tough international stints. Whether that will be enough to help them in the coming South East Asian games against very tough U23 teams from other SEA countries is another matter.

At least we got to see new and U23 players in action, and gauge their performance. Most of them had creditable performances, despite the disappointing results of the team.
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Azkals vs. Macau, October 4, 2011

Below are my notes for the Azkals-Macau game in the 2011 Long Teng Cup as aired on Studio 23 on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, starting at 3:30 pm.

‘Pre-Game’
My expectations of this game is simple: A 5-0 win. Anything less, would be a disappointment. A draw or loss would be absolutely catasthropic.

It looks like all is forgiven (?) with Mark Hartmann, as he is starting in today’s game. He will be coming in for Angel Guirado in the starting line up, who is automatically suspended after picking up successive Yellow Cards in the previous two games.

Chieffy Caligdong is rightfully not playing in this game, after a injury he had suffered in the last game. His play-alike and substitute in the last two games, Jeffrey Christiaens will take his place in the left wing.

Azkals’ Starting Eleven: (Goalkeeper) Ronald Muller; (Backline) Aly Borromeo, Oliver Poetschke, Carli De Murgia, Nickson Leonora; (Midfield) Jason De Jong, James Younghusband, Jeffrey Christiaens, Mark Hartmann; (Forwards) Ian Araneta, Phil Younghusband
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Azkals vs. Taiwan, October 2, 2011

Below are my notes for the Azkals-Taiwan game in the 2011 Long Teng Cup as aired on Studio 23 on Sunday, October 2, 2011, starting at 5:30 pm.

‘Pre-Game’
Ronnie Nathanielsz must really have strong connections with ABS-CBN, they can’t seem to get rid of that moron from the panel of Football “Experts”. Dyan Castillejo I think is better suited as “On-The-Ground” Reporter, rather than being in a panel inside a studio. Then she can give more valuable inside news about the Azkals, about their morale, player and team developments, etc.

I find it strange that ABS-CBN could not air live the Azkals-Hong Kong game last Friday, but then spends a full 1 1/2 hours for pre-game analysis on this weekend game. No, that will not make up for that inability to air the Friday game live. Football is best viewed live, when you don’t know who and when the goals will come.

I watched the first 30 minutes of the pre-game, then sort of tuned in and out for the rest of the hour.

One big question for me in this game, would be, will Mark Hartmann be fielded in this game, after complaining this morning on his Twitter account about not starting for the Azkals, and threatening to go back to the UK?
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Azkals vs. Hong Kong, September 30, 2011

Below are my notes for the Azkals-Hong Kong game in the 2011 Long Teng Cup as aired on Studio 23 on Friday, September 30, 2011, starting at 9:30 pm.

‘Pre-Game’
What the heck is Ronnie Nathanielsz doing on the panel for Studio 23? What are his credentials that would warrant him to be a Football “Expert”?

I was wondering about the same thing about Chris Soler, who writes an online column for the “Inbounds Pass” website about Basketball. But in fairness, he does seem to do know a lot about Football also.

One good thing about having the Azkals on ABS-CBN, is the fact that they arguably have the best Football commentators in the country right now in Bob Guerrero and Darren Hartmann. Darren is a wealth of Football information, especially in terms of the tactics and strategies, something I haven’t seen with Anthony Suntay, Jason Webb and Ryan Fenix. Bob compliments him nicely, as he also seems to know much about international Football.

It looks like 99% of the Filipino fans who watched the game live were women. Jason De Jong, Carli De Murga and Darren Hartmann weren’t singing during the Philippine National Anthem. Perhaps they don’t know the lyrics to it yet.
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