Azkals vs. Turkmenistan Green Men, March 16, 2012

March 16, 2012 at the Dashrath Rangsala Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Azkals’ semifinals game in the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup: The Green Men beat the Azkals, 2-1.

Starting XI: Goalkeeper – Neil Etheridge; Defenders – Luis Guirado, Carli De Murga, Ray Jonsson, Rob Gier; Midfielders – Chieffy Caligdong, Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles, Jason De Jong; Forwards – Phil Younghusband, Paul Mulders

Substitutes: Lexton Moy, Roel Gener, Ian Araneta.

‘First Half Summary’
From the first minutes of the game, I felt we looked very promising, mainly because the Green-minded Men had problems retaining the ball on our third of the pitch. Everytime time they launch an attack, things sort of peter out when our defense intercepts the ball. OTOH, we were able to launch quite a number of attacks using our “maligned” long ball tactics.

Paul Mulders again showed his Eredivisie level talent by making that perfect pass to PYH from the right side of the box, with the ball landing straight square into Phil’s head and into the goal. Credit the assist to Mulders, and this time it is an official one. I remember Mulders also make a good pass to PYH from the midfield that resulted in a goal in that friendly in Manila last year against Nepal.
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Azkals vs. India Blue Tigers, March 11, 2012

March 11, 2012 at the Dasrath Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Azkals’ second game in the elimination stage of the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup: The Azkals beat the India Blue Tigers, 2-0.

Starting XI: Goalkeeper – Neil Etheridge; Defenders – Luis Guirado, Jason Sabio, Ray Jonsson, Rob Gier; Midfielders – Carli De Murga, Pau Mulders, James Younghusband, Anghel Guirado; Forwards – Phil Younghusband, Chieffy Caligdong

Substitutes: Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles

‘Game Summary’
I’ve always felt that the South Asian teams are overrated, based on the way we routed (not just beat, but routed) a team from that region whenever we meet them. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, we all beat them 3-0, 4-0, 4-0. I felt that the South East Asian region is a lot more competitive than their region, and that we could beat this Indian team, we just had to prove it out on the pitch.

The Blue Tigers does have some quality, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for Neil and our backline in this game. Neil particularly had to make some good saves off the Indian’s long range shots, and good crosses into the box, especially during Set Pieces (i.e., Corner Kicks, Free Kicks). Same with our Backline who were pushed to the limit a couple of times by the Indian’s attacks on our box. But in the end, we just had the better quality overall to win the game.
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Azkals vs. DPR Korea Chollimas, March 9, 2012

March 9, 2012 at the Halchowk Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Azkals’s opening game in the elimination stage of the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup: The DPR Korea Chollimas win over the Philippine Azkals, 2-0.

Starting XI: Goalkeeper – Neil Etheridge; Defenders – Luis Guirado, Jason Sabio, Ray Jonsson, Carli De Murga; Midfielders – Pau Mulders, James Younghusband, Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles; Forwards – Phil Younghusband, Angel Guirado

Substitutes: Chieffy Caligdong, Lexton Moy, Rob Gier

‘Game Summary’
Not so impressed with the Chollimas, they are not as good as the U23 Uzbekhs. I still maintain that the U23 Uzbekhs were by far the strongest National team we have played against so far if you include the Practice Games. On an OFFICAL FIFA game, though, the DPR Koreans are arguably the strongest team we have faced so far, them being the first opponent we have faced that played in the 2010 World Cup. They lost all of their three games in the World Cup, but only by one goal to Brazil, 2-1, before being routed 7-0 by Portugal which had CR7 (Cristiano Ronaldo), and finally losing to Cote D’Ivoire (formerly “Ivory Coast”), which had Didier Drogba.

We were lucky in the first half, though, especially with that Penalty Kick Play. The first one went in, but was disallowed due to encroachment. The second one was skillfully deflected by Neil Etheridge. That could’ve easily been 1-0 right there.
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