29 June 2011

More tenacious Azkals battle Sri Lankans today

By Cedelf Tupas

COLOMBO—Skipper Aly Borromeo watched the World Cup final pitting Spain and the Netherlands at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg last year and wondered if he would ever play a single match in the sport’s biggest stage, let alone get a shot at making it there.

Borromeo and his fellow Philippine Azkals finally get that precious crack at the tournament starting Wednesday here when they battle Sri Lanka in the first round of the 2014 Fifa World Cup Qualifiers at the Sugathadasa Stadium in this port city in the Indian Ocean.

“Every football player dreams of playing in the World Cup,” said Borromeo, a veteran of the national side since 2004.

“And ever since I’ve played for the national team, that’s always made me sad because we haven’t sent a delegation even to the qualifiers. We know its a long shot but at least we’ve taken a step closer.”

Kickoff is at 4 p.m. DST (6:30 p.m. in Manila) with the Azkals looking to grab the advantage against an unfancied Sri Lankan side, before the series shifts to Manila on Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Although the Azkals have been tipped as favorites to prevail, German coach Michael Weiss said the Sri Lankans cannot be underestimated.

Add that to the fact that the Sri Lankans have played considerably well at home.

“It will not be easy,” said Weiss, who took the squad’s reins early this year. “They have been training for three months and have been playing together for years. No one should think that this will be just a passers-by match. In today’s football, no one should be underestimated.”

Just how tough are the Sri Lankans at home? Weiss pointed out the fact that Kuwait, the Middle East powerhouse that awaits the winner of this tie, managed just a scrambling 1-nil win here a few years ago.

“We are not yet on that level where we can clearly dominate,” Weiss said.

Team manager Dan Palami, who had earlier talked up the Azkals’ chances, said they are approaching the match with “cautious optimism.”

“We don’t know what the conditions will be [today],” said Palami. “Sri Lanka is going to defend their turf the best way they can. We will try to overwhelm them in the first 10 minutes.”

Jang Jung, Sri Lanka’s Korean coach, opted to downplay his team’s chances.

“Our preparation is not enough,” said Jung. “We don’t know the Philippines but it’s going to be a close match.”

The Azkals started their buildup for the match in Manila two months ago and wrapped it up with a high-intensity two-week camp in Germany that gave Weiss a glimpse of the immense attacking potential of the squad as well as its defensive frailties.

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, opted to stay in Colombo for its preparations.

Just as the team had feared, Ray Jonsson failed to make the trip here yesterday because of his commitment with his Icelandic club, Grinvadik.

Weiss is expected to tap Paul Mulders, an attacking midfielder, to take Jonsson’s place at leftback in the starting eleven, which will include Borromeo, goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, defenders Anton del Rosario and Rob Gier, midfielders Chieffy Caligdong, James Younghusband, Manny Ott and Stephan Schrock and forwards Angel Guirado and Phil Younghusband.



  1. I can't wait to hear them sing the Philippine national anthem!!!

  2. Sinong starting 11 nyo?

    Etheridge, Jonsson (if available), Grier, Borromeo, Schrock, J Younghusband, Mulders, Ott, Caligdong, Guirado, P Younghusband,

  3. ^^I agree.f I was Weiss, I'll rather put Schrock at RB bcoz thats his natural position, and Mulders as attacking midfielder which is his natural position also.

    - - - - - - - Etheridge - - - - - - -
    Del Rosario - Gier - Borromeo - Schrock
    - - - Mulders - - - Ott - - -
    J.Younghusband - Guirdo -- - Caligdong
    - - - - - - P. Younghusband - - - - - -

  4. then araneta as super sub.

  5. ^^Agree> Araneta as super sub..
    Could we use 4-3-1-2 with the same line-up? What dyou think (Guirado & P Younghusband as strikers)?

  6. i'd rather have guirado as an attacking mid then P. Yhb as lone stricker up front. then J Yhb and Chiefy on the wings. Heard alot about the Schrock kid so cant wait to see him play. I have not heard anything about the Mulders guy and Ott yet.

  7. Shut down Fernando!!!!

  8. 10 minutes over 0-0

  9. the Azkals' starting 11 line-up includes Etheridge, Borromeo, Gier, Phil and James Younghusband, Caligdong, Guirado, Mulders, Ott, Shrock and Del Rosario.

  10. go go azkals' go for the Philippines go go azkals i hope you win go go go phil

  11. 1-0 for Sri Lanka, half time.
    phil younghusband probably injured.

  12. 1-1 equalizer, Nate Burkey, ass. Chieffy

  13. the referee is also quite strange, he always shows cards to Azkals and no to Sri Lanka.....no wonder, he is from Bangladesh.

  14. Big upset: Mongolia beat Myanmar 1-0 !

  15. final score: 1-1

  16. its becoming more apparent that we are only able to score on the counter when our opponents send 9 men forward (as was the case in suzuki cup matches vs vietnam and singapore).

    we still need to develop a solid central mid field core. schrock and ott were good but i thought they are both better served as defensive central midfields (if they are even comfortable playing in the middle). need a distributing mid fielder to help retain possession and get the ball to guirado and p yhb up front. until that happens, its long ball and escapada, which doesn't always produce good results. thus our inability to score regularly.

  17. Congrats on predicting the correct score, Jonny.
    None for that crap commentator. Quote: 'you'll notice there are a number of Muslims who play football'.
    What does he think Kuwaitis are? Mor(m)ons?

  18. Agreed with the person 2 posts above. I really wanted to see them push Mulders up into midfield for the last 10 - 15 minutes and see what impact he could make. He had pretty good distribution and vision from the LB spot barring one errant pass towards the end.

    You could sense he was itching to get forward and get involved in the play. Hopefully we get to see him contribute to his strengths on Sunday.

  19. actually if you see what squad we put on the pitch it is a little disappointment just to draw against such a team. but all in all (if we consider all circumstances there like the worse pitch, distracted free kick goal for the Sri Lankans ...) we can be satisfied....also Schrock made a very good match in my opinion. we have now all chances to advance into the next round on home turf. just too bad that we didn't make our long expected 1st world cup victory........like Mongolia did and other minors made quite well performances.....so good luck for Sunday and hope we can make a decision early in the match which will be better for our nerves :-)

  20. I hope Ray Jonsson can play in the second leg and put stability in our defense. I agree Mulders has great vision and distribution and he would be more effective in his natural position (midfield). Shrock played great also. The team has a very good potential, it only matter of time to find the right combination and cohesion.

  21. I like Jonsson at left back as well. but its becoming clear also that the vaunted back four are not as quick as we thought they were once they have to cover ground. they were mightily effective in suzuki as they played exclusively in the defending third. Now that we're no longer the hunted and we attempt to press forward, there were many times that the back four were found scrambling to cover ground against the speedy, smaller Sri Lankans.
    I hope they play 4-4-1-1, with Mulders in place of Ott, Jonsson at LB and Guirado as attacking midfielder, P Yhb up front, chiefy and J yhb on the wings.
    Araneta in for P Yhb 50th minute.

  22. "they were mightily effective in suzuki as they played exclusively in the defending third"

    No they weren't!! The back four got sliced open too easily too often during the Suzuki Cup! It was poor finishing that let the opposition down during that tournament and therefore made the scorelines look like we were this really great defensive unit when in fact it flattered to deceive!! The same holds true today!