By Jerome S. Galunan Jr.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
PHILIPPINE Men's Football Team-Azkals displayed supremacy over the Ceres-Negros Team yesterday, 3-1, in a friendly match before the 7,000 Negrenses watching at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City.
Mark Hartman was Azkals' marked man, as he led the nationals with two goals.
Hartman scored his first in the 35th minute when he volleyed the ball towards the goal off the missed shot of Ian Araneta after the latter clashes with Ceres' keeper Michael Louie Casas just above the penalty area. Both Casas and Araneta fell on the ground leaving Ceres goal unguarded.
The home team has been very aggressive on offense but unfortunate to nail a goal as all attempts went wide, including a Ruben Doctora Jr. strike from 15 yards that hit the bar.
Azkals led the half, 1-nil.
In the resumption of the game, Araneta scored a header at close range in the 46th minute off the pass from Hartman to put the nationals on top, 2-nil.
However, refused to give up, Doctora scored a close range goal in the 69th minute off a corner kick to put the game closer, 2-1.
Another missed opportunity for the Ceres to equalize the match on Aldrin Dolino's strike from the center just above the penalty box after the referee called for an offside.
But despite that call, the home team remained focused and tried to keep the Negros pride, as they tried several goal attempts but were unsuccessful.
With eight minutes left before the final whistle, Hartmann scored his second and the team's third goal in the 82nd minute from 18 yards left of the field. The strike was too strong as it went through the goal, impossible for Ceres' keeper Casas to save.
On the other hand, in the press conference held after the match, both Azkals’ team manager Dan Palami and head coach Hans Michael Weiss admitted that the local squad gave them a tough game.
"The Negros team was strong that we got some problem in the beginning but got the momentum after our first goal," Weiss said. "I've seen lots of good players from the Ceres Team and hopefully they can be part of the national squad," the German mentor added.
Meanwhile, Palami and Weiss explained the absence of Azkals' key men skipper Aly Borromeo, co-skipper Chieffy Caligdong, defender Anton del Rosario and Fil-spanish striker Angel Guirado.
Weiss said that it is management's decision to impose disciplinary action over these standouts. According to him, these players failed to report on the field during the resumption of their training and have not communicated with them regarding the matter.
"But the disciplinary action does not mean that these players are already out of the national team. This will only give them some time to think twice before they do such actions. They are still very welcome to the team," Weiss added.
The weeklong camp and friendly matches in Bacolod are part of the national squad's preparation in the forthcoming Long Teng Cup in Taiwan slated September 28 to October 4 in Taiwan and Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia on November 11 to 22.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 15, 2011.