Azkals vs. United Arab Emirates, November 9, 2013

November 9, 2013 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for an Azkals’ International Friendly game: The Azkals lose to the United Arab Emirates, 4-0.

‘Active Azkals Players’
(Goalkeeper) – Ed Sacapano
(Defenders) – Rob Gier, Jeffrey Christiaens, Juani Guirado, Ray Jonsson
(Midfielders) – Chris Greatwich, Jerry Lucena, Anghel Guirado, James Younghusband
(Forwards) – Phil Younghusband, Patrick Reichelt
(Substitutes) – Marwin Angeles, OJ Porteria, Mark Hartmann, Chieffy Caligdong

‘Game Summary’
It was obvious from the first few minutes of the game that there is a large difference in the skill level of the the two teams. UAE played like your typical Middle East team in that they play an up tempo type of game with very sharp technical skills. It was one touch passing all around, like the ball was connected to the players with a string and they just keep bouncing it around off each other. They took a total of 13 shots on goal in the first half, scoring twice in the first 30 minutes of the game.
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Azkals vs. Hong Kong, June 4, 2013

June 4, 2013 at the Mong Kok Stadium in Hong Kong, China for the Azkals’ lone International Friendly Match in June: The Azkals win over Hong Kong, 1-0.

Active Azkals Players:
(Goalkeeper) – Neil Etheridge
(Defenders) – Rob Gier, Jeffrey Christiaens, Juani Guirado, Carli De Murga
(Midfielders) – Chris Greatwich, Chieffy Caligdong, James Younghusband, Paul Mulders
(Forwards) – Stephan Schrock, Phil Younghusband
(Substitutes) – Misagh Bahadoran, OJ Porteria, Marwin Angeles, Lexton Moy

‘Game Summary and Overview’
Not a lot of ground game from both teams, both sides basically relied on long balls all throughout the game. Part of this is mainly due to the high press both teams were employing which they could not overcome and thus lost much of their ground passing game. It was part luck, and part skill that we managed to score a goal in the first half: The “Luck” part was when the Cross by Stephan Schrock was deflected by a Hong Kong Defender straight into the direction of James Younghusband; The “Skill” part was how JYH got to the ball ahead of the defender in front of him, and how he was able to place the shot into the far right post when he himself was just beyond the left post. It was an almost unstoppable shot in terms of placement.

In the second half, though, Hong Kong clearly was the better side despite making more substitutions than us. They had a couple of great shots, including a Penalty Kick, and it was just Neil Etheridge’s brilliance that kept the clean sheet for the Azkals. The Azkals did end up with a decent ground game in the 2nd half in some spots, but these were not enough to penetrate through the final third. Most of the Azkals’ chances still relied on hustle by stealing the ball away, or by making individual runs during counterattacks.

‘Hong Kong Team’
Hong Kong showed in this game that they indeed live up to FIFA’s ranking of them as a “Developed Football Country”. FIFA uses that term to describe countries which has lucrative local Football Club Tournaments, good patronage from the local populace and good achievements in international competitions. Part of this was in effect during the game which was very well attended by the home crowd, it was a sea of Red out there in support of their team. They also were chanting non-stop all throughout the game, an indication of true Football fans.
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Azkals vs. Myanmar White Angels, February 6, 2013

February 6, 2013 at the Thuwanna Youth Training Center Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar for the Azkals’ first International Friendly match for 2013: The Azkals win over the White Angels, 1-0.

Active Azkals Players:
(Goalkeeper) – Neil Etheridge
(Defenders) – Rob Gier, Jason De Jong, Manny Ott, Jeffrey Christiaens
(Midfielders) – Chris Greatwich, Chieffy Caligdong, Patrick Reichelt, Marwin Angeles
(Forwards) – OJ Porteria, Phil Younghusband
(Substitutes) – Ian Araneta, Marvin Angeles

‘Game Observations’
Both teams had good chances in the first half, but clearly Myanmar had more and the better chances. Better still was the way they were able to string two-three passes inside our box making for very dangerous attempts. There was one cross from the White Angels which left one player on a one-on-one situation with Neil. He missed the shot mainly because of his inexperience, if we had been against a better team that would’ve been a goal right there.

We had our chances on offense, but it was more due to individual runs rather than good teamplay. Myanmar was exploiting the Azkals Right Flank, that was where their best Striker Kyaw Kow Kow was, and where Manny Ott was trying to play Right Back but was not doing a very good job at it on Defense.

You would think the Azkals would be able to make the necessary adjustments by the second half, but things got even worst for us. They dominated possession even more, and even had better attempts while frolicking in the box. Neil Etheridge had to make two important and LUCKY saves in that half, truly last minute saves that would’ve been likely been goals had it not been for his English Premiere League quality. The Azkals were in deep, deep trouble until OJ Porteria made that lucky goal late in the second half, which effectively knocked the wind out of the inexperienced Myanmar team. Their offense were never the same after that.
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