31 July 2011

Philippine ‘Azkals’ brace for stricter training regimen

THREE days after Kuwait’s Al Azraqs ended the Philippines’ campaign to enter the third round of the World Cup qualifiers, ‘Azkals’ German coach Hans Michael Weiss announced that his wards would undergo a stricter training program.

“Everybody will be very busy after August. I guess it’s time to put up the guys to another kind of training level, which is going to be stricter unlike our previous trainings. I don’t have anything against the players but that’s the way it should be,” Weiss told the Manila Times.

Weiss did not reveal the specifics of the new training program but stressed that disciplinary actions would be imposed on players who would fail to follow the rules.

“All my players are very responsible, good and talented, but there are times you need to tighten up the rules since they know how hard it is to play football internationally,” said Weiss, who is scheduled to return to Germany for a brief vacation.

Azkals team manager Dan Palami agreed that a more rigid training program is needed if the Azkals are to soar to greater heights of success, “Nine months ago, who would think we’d engage Kuwait in the World Cup qualifier? Coach Weiss has made miracles for the ‘Azkals’ but he’s not Jesus Christ to make all miracles happen. The team needs more time and we’d be stricter,” Palami said.

Weiss’ coaching contract with the Azkals is still good for one-and-a-half year and he promised the Philippine Football Federation as well as Filipino football fans that they would see a lot of improvements from the team during that period.

The training of the Philippine ‘Azkals’ will resume late August in preparation for the Long Teng Cup in September and the Indonesia 26th Southeast Asian Games in November.

Manila Times

30 July 2011

'More futsal courts needed to sustain PH football'

by Dennis Gasgonia, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – To sustain the popularity of football in the Philippines, Filipinos should be encouraged to play the sport.

To do this, according to football analyst Bob Guerrero, more futsal fields should be developed so that fans can enjoy the sport popularized locally by the Philippine Azkals.

“There are a lot of basketball courts all over the country. What I'd like to see is more futsal goals to be developed,” Guerrero said in dzMM’s Sports Talk.

Futsal is a scaled down version of football. It is played between 2 teams with 5 players each.

“It's a great game to develop skills, dribbling skills... all you need is a couple of goals, a bag of balls and you can play football,” said Guerrero.

Other guests on Saturday’s Sports Talk include Pinoyfootball.com columnist and sports writer Cedelf Tupas, and Azkals players Simon Greatwich, Rob Gier, Misagh Bahadoran and Nate Burkey.

Guerrero hopes that the sport flourishes in the Philippines just like in Japan, whose team recently won the Women’s World Cup.

“I'm hopeful what happens in the Philippines is the same thing that happened in Japan, where baseball is more popular. The passion and interest should be sustained,” he said.

Tupas, for his part, stressed the need to develop a professional football league to encourage Filipinos to really take up football.

“Sometimes it's not just about playing for the country, you want to make a career also,” he said.

He said local players should be provided an avenue where they can use their football talent.

“If you're taking up football as a sport early on, wala kang patutunguhan… you don't have a future with it. You go to college for example, when you play football and get a college scholarship, after that, should you continue playing?” said Tupas.

Grass roots
According to Gier, the country can take advantage of the sport’s current popularity by implementing a comprehensive grass roots program.

He said that for the sport to really flourish in the Philippines, the locals should continue what the Azkals have started.

“We're gonna need players that gonna step into our shoes, it's important that we generate as many new playing football as possible, we gonna need find local guys out there,” said Gier.

“This is all about football,” he said. “We just want people to play the game and love it as much as we do. We're grateful now that we have the chance to set this up.”

Tupas said the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) plays a major role in sustaining the initial success.

“Now it's a challenge for the PFF to convince DepEd (Department of Education) again to put more emphasis on football as a PE sport,” he said.


Azkals set sights on SEAG, AFC

MANILA, Philippines - Its Fifa World Cup dream dashed for now, the Philippines shifts its aspirations to the next big competitions in the region – the Southeast Asian Games in November for the Under-23 team and the AFC Challenge Cup next year for the Azkals seniors side.

Taking off from the Azkals’ breakthrough second-round stint in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) looks to win a first-ever medal in the SEAG in Indonesia, setting training camps abroad to hone up the squad.

“Coach Michael Weiss has already submitted a program so we’ll just be going to discuss the budget. There will be two camps abroad for the U-23. One in the Middle East. And if the situation in Japan has already normalized, then we want to go to Japan,” PFF president Nonong Araneta said.

Some of the younger Azkals like Jason de Jong, Simon Greatwich and Manuel Ott will reinforce the U-23 side, boosting Phl’s drive to break into the medal picture in men’s football for the very first time in the biennial meet.

“We will definitely vie, work for that medal. We have a good chance, we’ve a good team and I think with the camp that we’re planning, with the training we’re preparing, the team will go a long way,” said Araneta.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge of Fulham is eligible at age 21, but he’s non-committal for the SEAG campaign as of now.

“I’m not sure (if I’ll be available). I still have to check my schedule (in England),” said the Fil-Britisth Azkals star.

Weiss said he will bring some of the youngsters with the Azkals senior team when they compete in the Long Teng Cup in Kaohsiung, Taiwan Sept. 28-Oct. 6 “to test their readiness for the SEA Games.” After this, an intensive four-week training is up, highlighted by camps in Dubai and Bahrain.

The Long Teng will also start off the Azkals’ buildup for the AFC Challenge Cup from March 3-8, 2012. The winner qualifies for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup finals, Asia’s premiere football meet where reigning champ Japan and powerhouses Australia and South Korea are already seeded.

“The Azkals’ main forcus will be the AFC Challenge Cup eight months from now. We’ll be trying to go directly to the Asian Cup so for this one, we have to get all players ready,” said Weiss.

The Azkals will take a monthlong break after their 1-5 loss to fancied Kuwait in the World Cup prelims, including a 1-2 heartbreaker at the Rizal pitch.

“This is an achievement even if we lost twice to Kuwait,” Weiss said. “We’re in a growing process and the team can only learn from these experiences.”


PFF lines up more tournaments for Azkals

WITH still eight months to go before the next big tournament, the Philippine national team will be busy joining pocket tournaments and is also eyeing a friendly against a team of football legends next month.

During the post-match party at the Diamond Hotel after the Azkals lost their home leg match to Kuwait in the Fifa 2014 World Cup qualifiers, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta announced they have confirmed the Philippines’ entry in the Long Teng Cup this September.

Last year, the Azkals joined the tournament with host Chinese Taipei, Macau and Hong Kong’s 23-Under team to prepare for the qualifying round of the Suzuki CUp. Hong Kong topped the event with seven points, while the host got second with five. The Philippines took third place with four points.

After the Long Teng Cup, the PFF is also planning the Manila Beer Cup, a four-team tournament in Manila this October that could involve Southeast Asian giants Malaysia and Singapore.

Aside from that, Dan Palami also told ABS-CBN that he’s looking at arranging a friendly match between the Azkals and former World Footballer of the Year Zinedine Zidane of France.

“We’re working right now on playing against very strong legends of the game. There’s a team that’s composed of Zidane and the rest of the players who are household names in football,” Palami said in an interview with ANC’s The Rundown.

Palami said all these friendlies and tournaments are part of the buildup for the team in their next major event--the AFC Challenge, where the Philippines qualified for the first time in three tries.

The AFC has deferred the selection of the host for the 2012 tournament pending its visit to Palestine, which is bidding for the tournament along with Maldives and Nepal.

Coach Hans Michael Weiss also said the team will be returning to Bahrain—where they held their camp prior to the second round match against Kuwait—for a four-team tournament after the officials there were overwhelmed by the support the team got from Filipinos in the Middle East country.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 31, 2011.

Janeo: Azkals need long-term preparation

By Jerome S. Galunan Jr.

THE 2-1 setback suffered by the Philippine Men’s Football National Team-Azkals last Thursday night and the 3-nil upset on an away game last Saturday in the hands of the much stronger Kuwait-Al Azraq squad only justified that the nationals are less prepared in the bid for the 2014 World Cup.

For a team with players playing together in less than a year, expectation should not be that high, compared to a squad that has bonded for several years. This was clearly seen during the match between the Azkals and Azraq.

The lack of familiarization among the Azkals has caused the squad’s numerous unsuccessful run during the match.

These were the observations of PFF-Suzuki U23 National Cup champion Negros-Ceres Team assistant coach Ramon Janeo.

He said that the Azkals lacked communication during the match.

“Hindi nila masyado kilala ang isa’t isa. Ito marahil ay dahil sa maiksing panahon sa pagbuo ng team,” Janeo theorized.

“So dapat ang gawin ng Philippine Football Federation is to plan a long term team preparation. Hindi ‘yong isang buwan na lang ang game o tournament, doon pa lang tayo mag-start sa pagbuo ng team,” Janeo stressed.

But Janeo commended the efforts of the Azkals during the Thursday match. “With regard to the team’s performance, ok naman kahit natalo because they played hard together,” he said.

On the other hand, Azkals media officer Rick Olivares disclosed that national team head coach Michael Weiss admitted during the post-game press conference that they have given Kuwait lots of space to score. Likewise, they were also concerned with Kuwait’s speed all series long.

Olivares further shared Weiss’ notes that if Phil Younghusband scored early and if Angel Guirado nailed that header, that would have been a very big boost. But they were unable to finish properly.

However, if Weiss was sparing in his praise, Kuwait was more effusive, Olivares said.

He reiterated that Kuwati forward Hamad Al-Enezi said that if the Azkals keep what they are doing, the Filipinos will be an Asian power in two or maybe four years. He said that the Azkals have the skills and the players and only need to keep them together.

The media officer also added that Kuwait coach Goran Tefugdzic admitted that it was a challenge playing the Philippines, adding, that the nationals gave them trouble in both Legs but their experience brought them to victory.

As of the moment, the focus of the national team will be the Under-23 squad which will compete in the Southeast Asian Games this coming November in Indonesia and the next phase of the AFC Challenge Cup.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 30, 2011.

Villaflor: Caught between an Azkalnut and a hater

By Noel S. Villaflor

FILIPINOS love underdogs. That is why despite their failure to advance in the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, the Azkals have further endeared themselves to the masses.

Going down fighting against a highly rated, extremely difficult team to beat like Kuwait is more than just entertainment fodder – it is textbook inspirational stuff for a people who have just emerged from decades of collective low self-esteem.

Of course there are always the “haters” whose disgust for the Azkals defies explanation. They revel at the team’s every misstep and will never see anything positive about losing. To them, talk about learning experiences is for “losers.”

On the other hand, there are the Azkalnuts, first-degree cousins of the Pacnuts, whose fanaticism for the national team borders on idolatry. They flare up over criticism of any kind against their beloved Azkals. To them, there is no such thing as constructive criticism. They are that rabid. (Pacnuts, before I forget, is short for Pacquiao nuthuggers. Go figure.)

Yet there is not much difference between the haters and the Azkalnuts, although if you’d put two of them together in a tiny, confined space, it could get uglier than rotten food in a blender. These people are impervious to reason. Explaining something to them is like talking to a wild animal being cornered. Then again, why would someone talk to such an animal in the first place? But you get the picture.

Caught in the middle, of course, are the rational fans, who, to their misfortune, must endure silliness from both ends. To scribes like me, however, these fans make writing worthwhile. They are the ones who provide fresh insights and point out errors of fact and logic. They understand that sincere praise and constructive criticism have equal value.

These are the fans any football writer would want to share a beer with and tell them how bad he feels about the loss.

On my end, for instance, it would be enough consolation for me to share how I felt moments after Kuwait equalized, like how it swept away the rapture that swelled in my gut after Stephan Schrock scored that wonder goal. By the time the second goal was conceded, I could barely look at the widescreen TV at the office where the game was
shown live.

By then, questions were flying in my head looking for answers, like those long balls in search of feet. How can the Azkals have allowed 10-man Kuwait to kill the match two times over? Was it a lack of maturity on our team to have conceded in such a manner?

Why was Coach Michael Weiss again so hesitant in using his subs when clearly many of the players were exhausted? Is there truth to observations that Weiss must have found the bench too shallow and so does not trust his subs at this level? If that’s the case, how can the Azkals management exhort their followers to “believe” when it doesn’t have enough faith in its second stringers?

Perhaps these were questions that could have been drowned with alcohol, but the last time I checked, drinking still wasn’t allowed during office hours.

Now, the reason I felt bad about the loss was not the Azkals’ crashing out of the World Cup qualifiers. The fan in me had braced myself for that eventuality, as I was certain that Kuwait’s three-goal lead going into the second leg was insurmountable.

On the other hand, I was confident the Azkals had a chance of beating Kuwait by a goal or, by a stretch, two. It might not be sufficient to carry the Filipinos to the next round, but still, a win over Kuwait would be a substantially bigger achievement than beating a much weaker Sri Lanka, regardless of “historical significance.”

Kuwait’s scalp would have been the underdogs’ biggest in decades, proof that indeed the Azkals are the real-deal giant slayers. It would have heralded another turning point for Philippine football. Still, I tell myself – and anybody who bothers to listen – that we’ll get there.

And while the haters would vehemently disagree, may I add that the performance of the Philippine Men’s National Football Team Thursday night is something every Filipino should be proud of. Just ask the Azkalnuts.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 30, 2011.

Azkals' Weiss blasts critics

by Dennis Gasgonia, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine football team coach Hans Michael Weiss can only shake his head at critics who are disappointed with his coaching style.

Weiss, who appeared with Azkals team manager Dan Palami on ANC’s The Rundown on Friday, said he’s already heard an earful about the way he handled the team during its games against Kuwait.

“To be honest, I can’t hear that question anymore,” he replied when asked about his refusal to substitute players during the Kuwait match.

Weiss said that as a coach, he knows what his players are capable of.

“We have the players together for a long, long time, so I know exactly the level of the player, I know exactly when to make substitutions and when not,” he said.

Weiss said that what pains him about the critics’ comments is that they didn’t really know what’s going on during their preparations against Kuwait.

“[The boys underwent] 6 months of very intensive, travelling, all these things for the boys very demanding mentally, physically... the people who make these comments, they don't know what's going on in the training,” said the football coach.

“In the end, if really, things will turn out to be wrong, this is the man who makes the decisions (he refers to Palami). Maybe he can put these experts in,” said Weiss.


1st PFF SMART Clubs championship launched in Iloilo

by Edson J. Bañares

ILOILO CITY, JULY 29 (PIA) – SMART Communications Sports Head Patrick Gregorio formally launched the first PFF SMART clubs championships at a press conference held July 29 here.

Gregorio said that Smart Communications, Inc. is doing this in cooperation in with the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) to promote football following the resurgence of the sport featuring the Philippine Azkals.

Eight teams coming from Bagiuo, Davao, Iligan, Iloilo, Leyte, two teams from the National Capital Region, the Pachanga Football Club (FC) and Technika FC, and one team from Rizal are vying for the club championship.

Out of the eight teams which are scheduled to play on August 9 - 13, four teams will play simultaneously in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo and the CPU Football ground, and these are the teams coming from Davao, Iloilo, Pachanga and Bagiuo.

The other teams coming from Iligan, Leyte, Technika FC and the San Beda FC of Rizal will play against each other at the Palaez Sports Complex in Cagayan de Oro on the same date.

The top two teams coming from tournament in Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro will compete in Manila for the semifinals round.

And for the finals, whoever will win in at the semis, each have a chance to play in their hometown to be become the first PFF SMART clubs champion.

Gregorio added that they deem this the best way to promote football that is to launch a club championship wherein regional champion teams compete against each other. (JSC/EJB-PIA 6)


29 July 2011

Azkals eye friendly with Zidane-led XI

MANILA, Philippines – If it was done between the NBA superstars and the local basketball players, it can also be done for the Philippine Azkals.

Azkals team manager Dan Palami said they are now arranging for the Philippine national football team to play friendly games against foreign squads, including a team led by French football legend Zinedine Zidane.

“We're working right now in playing against very strong legends of the game. There's a team that's composed of Zidane and the rest of the players who are household names in football,” Palami said in an interview on ANC’s The Rundown.

The Azkals team manager said the proposed match will take place in the Philippines.

Palami added that the Azkals will also have friendlies against Southeast Asian teams.

The games, he said, are part of their build up for major tournaments in 2012.

“For this year, we'll continue to build up the team, we'll play for major tournaments we've been participating for early next year. First there's the AFC Challenge Cup… to be part of the Asian Cup,” said Palami.

The Azkals just concluded their campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with the 2nd-round qualifying tie against Kuwait Al-Azraq.

Palami said that a year ago, the team could only dream of a game against a high-caliber team like Kuwait.

“To think that we just achieved that, not just play against them but actually threatened them with a win. It just showed how big a stride we've made from starting to form this team,” he said.


End of World Cup journey just a start for Azkals

MANILA, Philippines – The road to the 2014 World Cup might be over, but all is not lost for the Azkals, who bravely fought but failed in losing to the ten-time Gulf Champions Al Azraq of Kuwait, 2-1 (5-1 aggregate score), in the second round of the Asian qualifiers.

There is still victory in the Azkals’ defeat if you ask head coach Hans Michael Weiss and their opponents’ coach.

“They may be down right now but I think this team can take this defeat. We have to take it fairly and also acknowledge that we went up against a tough opponent,” said Weiss moments after loss.

“In terms of the aspects of the game – technique, tactic and conditioning – Kuwait was always one step faster. The team can only learn from this experience. One year ago, who would have thought that we’ll reach this far but we have to continue. I hope that the support will not stop,” Weiss added.

The country has a long way to go and is still a work in progress, but the Al-Azraq Kuwait coaching staff thinks it’s just a matter of time before the Azkals become an Asian powerhouse.

“You have great talents and good system in place. You have to continue playing to gain more experience. We may have more experience and better ranking but I think in a short period of time, the Philippines will become one of the top 10 national teams in Asia,” the Kuwait coaching staff, led by Tufegdzic, said appeared in the post-match press conference.

But for this to happen, Weiss asked for the critics’ understanding and support from the fans.

“We still have a long way to go but the Philippines is on the right track. The team will be a contender for the World Cup in the next four years [in my own point of view] but we will need more international exposure and extensive training,” said the German mentor, who replaced English mentor Simon McMenemy early this year.

The Azkals will resume training with the Under-23 Team late in August to prepare for the Long Teng Cup in Taiwan in September.

Weiss said that they will bring in a couple of youngsters, whose names were withheld, to test them before the Southeast Asian Games in November.

The team will undergo an extensive four-week training camp in preparation for the SEA Games, including another trip to the Gulf region for exhibition matches. A four-nation cup is also being eyed to give the Azkals more international exposure leading to the AFC Challenge Cup in March, where the country is one of the eight nations competing for a spot in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.

Joining the Azkals in the tournament are Palestine, India, Turkmenistan, Maldives, North Korea, Tajikistan and Nepal.

“First of all, everybody needs a break. We need a mental and, as well as, physical break. These players have sacrificed a lot in the past few months. They might be down but they did a fine job. They held their own against a top 100 team in the world. I don’t want to praise them too much but they gave their best but it was not enough to lead us to victory,” said Weiss.


28 July 2011

Win or lose, Azkals to stay busy after qualifying game


MANILA, Philippines — There's so much to look forward to for the Philippine football team whether it advances or not to the third round of the qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup.

At least three tournaments are lined up for the Azkals in the next four months that will keep the team busy until the end of the year.

The Azkals were playing Kuwait's Al-Azraq at presstime in the second leg of their second round qualifying series at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, facing a gargantuan task of overhauling a 0-3 deficit before the home crowd.

Regardless of the outcome, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Jr. and team manager Dan Palami are both convinced that the team has already made great strides in the sport, coming along way from just ‘minnows’ in Asia and Southeast Asian neighbors to an emerging and developing football power.

“Whatever happens, facing Kuwait has already cemented the development of the team considering that a few months ago we have not imagined playing against them,” Palami said.

“We are actually making great strides in the sport. I think that fact that we’re facing Kuwait, an Asian Cup champion, a one-time World Cup finalist and a Gulf champion, is already a great testament.”

Araneta said fans and critics should not forget that the Azkals, down three places at 162 in the latest International Football Federation (Fifa) rankings have already made a lot of heads turn when they made Philippine history by reaching the second round of the World Cup qualifiers.

The Azkals have crushed Sri santiagoLanka on 5-1 aggregate in the first round early this month to reach the second round – a feat no Philippine team has achieved since the country started competing in the World Cup qualifiers in 1950.

Araneta said the Azkals are set to compete in the four-team Long Teng Cup in Taiwan in September against Hong Kong, Macau and the host nation.

In October, the PFF will host a four-nation invitational tourney with Malaysia and Singapore confirming participation and the last slot going to either Thailand or Vietnam. The event will be sponsored by Asia Brewery Inc.

In November, Azkals coach Michael Weiss will lead the Under-23 football team in its bid to win a first ever medal in the men’s football competition of the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia slated from Nov. 11-22 in the capital of Jakarta and Palembang.

Manila Bulletin

YouTube : AZKALS vs KUWAIT , Schröck goal

Azkals fall short in gallant attempt to upset Kuwait

The Azkals stunned heavily favored Kuwait with a spectacular first-half goal, but again suffered second-half defensive breakdowns to allow the visitors to squeak by with a 2-1 victory at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

With their win at home, Kuwait advanced to the third round of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers while eliminating the Philippines.

Yousef Sulaiman and Ahmed Jumah scored the goals for Kuwait in the 61st and 85th minute.

But those came after the Philippines gave them a scare by striking first, when midfielder Stephan Schrock slammed home the Azkals' first and only goal in two matches, just before the half, igniting the crowd.

The euphoria extended into halftime as a sold-out stadium began smelling a historic upset against an opponent ranked 67 places higher in the FIFA rankings.

But to move on to the next World Cup qualifying round, the Azkals not only had to win but beat Kuwait by four goals, after losing in the away leg, 3-0.

Up tempo match

With a three-goal deficit, the Azkals played a high defensive line to push forward and pressure the Kuwaitis from the start.

Both teams had numerous chances to score with Kuwait looking to counter-attack the Azkals pressing game in the high tempo match.

Both teams also played the ball quickly and effectively behind some crisp passing. The Philippines also abandoned their old long-ball tactics.

Kuwaiti Fahad Al-Ebrahim was ejected midway in the second half after a dangerous challenge against Chieffy Caligdong, giving the Azkals a golden opportunity to pad their lead.

However, the Azkals' playing so high up the pitch enabled Kuwait to counter with a fast break and score soon after the red card to momentarily silence the pro-Filipino crowd.

Down to 10 men, Kuwait played the ball well to the left, with Jumah finding the back of the net.

Azkals keeper Neil Etheridge was tenacious in goal, but the Kuwaitis' better coordination and even conditioning shone in the two late goals.

Despite the result, the crowd gave the home team a standing ovation after the match as they circled the pitch to chants of "Azkals, Azkals, Azkals," a shirtless and brawny young Etheridge reminding the crowd that this team can only get better. – With reports from Earl Victor Rosero and Roy Moore/JVP/MRT/HS, GMA News

Azkals 1-2 Kuwait FT

Philippines vs Kuwait

Rizal Memorial in Manila

Time : 7 pm (Manila)

Tv : Studio 23 from 5.30 pm

livescore : futbol24.com

Twitter : Cedelf Tupas and Roy Moore

Philippines: 1 Etheridge (GK), 2 Gier, 4 del Rosario, 7 J Younghusband, 8 Ott, 10 P Younghusband, 11 A Borromeo (C), 12 Aldeguer, 13 Caligdong, 16 Jonsson, 17 Schrock

News, line-ups , livestream , weather . Post in comments !

Good luck !!

Malditas at Rizal

Message from Malditas (Philippines Women`s NT) :

"Come visit the MALDITAS before the AZKALS game. We will have a booth along the Adriatico entrance of RIZAL. Harap ng MACDO Harrison Plaza! The MALDITAS will be there to support the AZKALS!"

Tickets for Kuwait match !

Ticketworld will be selling 3k, 2k and a few php200 tickets today starting at 1pm. Adriatico side of Rizal stadium.

Nepal host 2012 AFC Challenge Cup finals !

AFC decided today that Nepal will host 2012 AFC Challenge Cup finals

Philippines qualified for 2012 AFC Challenge Cup , which is scheduled for March 2012

27 July 2011

Weiss snaps at critics


"SO, are you also questioning my decisions now?" German coach Michael Weiss snapped at this surprised writer as we tried to greet him on a rainy Tuesday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium pitch just before the Philippine Azkals started practice.

With his solid 6-foot-2 frame and sporting a black bull cap, black jacket and black shorts, the 45-year-old mentor struck an imposing and intimidating figure, indeed.

But once Weiss settled down, he explained his exasperation was not aimed at yours truly but at armchair critics and pundits who had tried to second-guess his moves in the nationals’ 0-3 loss to Kuwait in the first leg of the second round of the Asian World Cup qualifiers in Kuwait City last Saturday.

"These people keep questioning my decisions but they were not aware of the realities that forced us to make these decisions in Kuwait," Weiss said. "All they need to do is talk to me and I could have told them why but all they do is just criticize."

Some of these so-called football experts, he said, had questioned why he had not made any substitutions late in the match when it was apparent that some of his key players like Angel Guirado, who was at the receiving end of several vicious tackles, Chieffy Caligdong and Phil Younghusband were either tired or hurting.

"And who would you have me replace them with," he asked, adding his four other players on the bench were all strikers while (defender) Roel Gener was also injured.

"Had I done so, the score might have been easily 8-0. We were up against a superior squad which had been together for years but I have only had my team for six months, so we did what had to be done," he said.

"I have coached all over the world and have given my best to the Azkals, who have made great progress given the time we have had with them, and yet it isn’t even enough," added Weiss, who has had coaching stints with China’s Under-20 and Rwanda’s Under-17 national teams and in the J-League on top of internship with Real Madrid and Arsenal.

"Now I am beginning to understand the crab mentality in this country," he said, referring to the Filipinos’ nasty habit of bringing other people down whom they see rising in prominence or popularity.

"I am the coach and have to make the hard decisions. If you want to question my actions, approach me and I will explain why but just do not criticize until you know the reason why," the German coach said. "If you are not satisified, that’s fine but please don’t criticize just for the sake of criticizing.

"These people are not even part of the coaching circle where we discuss all our field decisions," he said. "If they were in my difficult shoes I wonder what they would have done."


Azkals pray for a miracle


Game Thursday (Rizal Memorial Football Stadium)

7 p.m. — Kuwait vs Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — While everybody broke into laughter, Philippine football team manager Dan Palami responded seriously when a sportswriter asked if the natural disasters such as the earthquake and typhoon the country has experienced the past few days could be seen as a good omen for their looming match.

The question somehow has relevance. Earthquakes appear to follow the Azkals wherever they go, and on those occasions, the Azkals emerged victorious each time.

An instance was when a magnitude 9 quake rocked Japan, site of the Azkals training, last March 11. The Azkals went on to advance to the Asian Football Confederation finals weeks later.

There was also a heavy downpour when the Azkals completed a 4-0 rout of Sri Lanka in the first round of the World Cup qualifiers early this month.

A magnitude 6.2 quake rocked parts of Luzon Tuesday while tropical depression “Juaning” battered Luzon, leaving 10 people dead.

“I hope so,” Palami answered during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday. “If the confluence of events like a typhoon and an earthquake is what it takes to bring us to the third round then we’ll be happy.”

Palami’s answer is understandable.

The Azkals will need all the help they could muster, even from Mother Nature, to keep their World Cup dream alive as they face Kuwait tonight in the second leg of their second round qualifying match at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

But many are convinced the Azkals need a miracle to overcome the odds.

Kick-off is at 7 p.m. with the Azkals needing to win by four goals or more to tame the Middle East power and reach the third round for the first time.

A win by three goals by the Azkals will force an extra time.

Unable to stick to their game plan in their first meeting, the Azkals yielded a 0-3 away defeat on Saturday in Kuwait.

“We need a miracle,” Palami said.

Faced with the urgency to score more goals, Azkals coach Michael Weiss said Monday that he intends to change his strategy from being too defensive to a little aggressive in the hope of creating more opportunities.

“We will loosen up a bit in defense, press early and look for an early goal just like against Sri Lanka,” the 46-year-old German coach said. “But it’s risky.”

The return of skipper Aly Borromeo and Fil-German Stephan Schrock from one-game suspensions augurs well for their planned forceful stance of the Azkals, Weiss said.

Palami believes the home crowd will spell the difference, and so is the expected heavy downpour.

A sell-out crowd of 13,000 is expected at the historic venue while PAGASA forecasts “Juaning” to bring more rains after making a landfall in Quezon province Wednesday morning.

“I think it (rain) will be a disadvantage to them because they’re not used to it,” Palami said of the team from the Gulf region.

Meanwhile, the Philippines dropped three notches down to 162nd in the latest FIFA rankings, while Kuwait jumped seven spots up to 95th.

Manila Bulletin

DBTC booters top Little Azkals in Treadtel Cup

The Little Azkals, also known as the Philippine national boys under-13 team, had a similar fate with their big brothers after losing to the booters from the Don Bosco Technology Center (DBTC) via a penalty shootout, 6-5, for the boys-14 title at the Aboitiz Sportsfield in Subangdaku, Mandaue, last weekend.

Both teams were forced into a shootout after the match ended at 1-all in regulation.

In the distaff side, Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu (SHS-AdC) claimed the girls-14 title with a 1-0 edging of St. Theresa’s College (STC).

The abandoned boys-17 title went to the University of San Carlos (USC), which redeemed itself after blanking Giuseppe FC, 3-0.

USC was denied the same title last year by the Abellana National School -Pomeroy, which opted not to defend its title due to budgetary constraints.

In the distaff side, STC’s older girls team compensated for their younger team’s loss with a 2-1 edging over USC via a penalty shootout after their championship match for the girls-17 title ended at 1-all in regulation.

The boys-12 title went to DBTC 1 with a 2-0 outsmarting of Canduman FC.

In the players-10, DBTC 3 frustrated its sister team DBTC 1 for the title with a 4-0 routing, while the players-8 title went to SHS-AdC, which beat Canduman FC, 2-0.

The players-6 title was notched by Giuseppe FC after trouncing Bright Minds.

Cebu Daily News

Palami says there’s life after World Cup qualifiers

AZKALS’ team manager Dan Palami told reporters on Tuesday that there’s life for the Philippine Azkals whether they made it through the second round of the World Cup qualifiers or not.

The Azkals need to pull off a near impossible 4-0 win against Kuwait’s Al Azraqs if the team is to enter the third round of the World Cup qualifying games. The two teams will clash for the second time tomorrow 7 p.m. at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

“We should not worry since the team is in developing process,” Palami told reporters during the weekly Philippine Sports Writing Association forum. “It’s a great experience that we played against Kuwait.”

Palami said that in case the Azkals failed to enter the third round of the World Cup qualifiers, their fans could still watch them compete in other international tournaments like the Long Teng Cup in Taiwan this September, the Four Nations Cup, which is to be held in Manila this year and the Challenge Cup slated March next year.

In addition, there’s also the 26th Southeast Asian Games on November 11 to 25 in Indonesia where some of the Azkals would play as members of the national football contingent.

“In terms of football development, we already achieve a lot this year particularly reaching the second round of the World Cup qualifiers,” said Palami.

Azkals’ German coach Hans Michael Weiss for his part emphasized that the team needs more international exposures to improve their level of skill.

“Kuwait’s players’ well-mapped-out positions and strategies made it difficult for us to defend. It would take another couple of years for us to reach such a level. Next year, we will challenge India and North Korea and preparations will be needed to be made earlier,” Weiss said

When asked to comment on what he would do should a miracle happen and the Azkals pulled off a 4-0 win against Kuwait, Palami said, “I’ll be the happiest team manager in the world.”

Manila Times

FIFA World Ranking - Philippines down 3

FIFA Ranking for July was released today. Philippines down 3 to number 162 but with 16 extra ranking points.

Kuwait up 7 to number 95.

26 July 2011

Dan Palami: We need a miracle

MANILA—The Philippine Azkals will not only be fighting to keep their World Cup dreams alive but also protect their impressive home record against Kuwait in the second leg of their second round World Cup Qualifying showdown at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Thursday.

The Azkals will be looking to overhaul a 0-3 deficit against the , who looked every bit the powerhouse team they are in the first leg in Kuwait City last Saturday.

But if there’s one factor going for the Azkals, it’s the fact that they will be playing in the comforts of home.

The Azkals have not lost a home game since November 2006 when they bowed to Laos, 1-2, in the Asean Football Championships at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.

Long before they reached superstar status, the Azkals have been drawing big crowds during their home matches in Bacolod and Iloilo and team manager Dan Palami hopes it will become a factor again against their strongest opponent yet in Manila.

About 13,000 people watched the Azkals demolish Sri Lanka, 4-0, in the first round last July 3.

“We need a miracle,” Palami said during the PSA Forum at the Shakey’s UN Avenue in Manila.

“We haven’t actually lost at home yet, this is partly because of the crowd factor. We also haven’t conceded a goal for a long time.”

The unbeaten and shutout streak started in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers in Iloilo, where they logged two wins and a draw. The Azkals also beat Mongolia, 2-0, early this year in Panaad.

Palami hinted that the counterattacking approach against Kuwait may not change despite the return of creative midfielder Stephan Schrock and skipper Aly Borromeo.

“We’re playing to win and at the same time defend,” Palami also said at the forum sponsored by Shakey’s, Outlast Battery, Pagcor, Smart and Accel.

Palami said that the Azkals, win or lose, can take consolation at the fact that they have already faced one of the best teams in Asia.


Azkals upbeat, won't stray from gameplan

MANILA, Philippines - A still upbeat Azkals have vowed to stick more to their gameplan in tomorrow’s second leg as they try to pull off a shocker against a Kuwaiti Al Azraq team out to finish them off after a 3-0 verdict the first time around.

“Right now, they’re ready to get back, bounce back from this particular defeat to Kuwait,” team manager Dan Palami said during yesterday’s PSA Forum.

Palami said the Azkals’ strategy for the first leg in Hawally, Kuwait last Saturday proved helpful in opening up scoring opportunities especially in the first half that ended 1-0 for Al Azraq, although the Filipinos failed to convert on them.

The second half proved fatal as the Azkals deviated from the 4-5-1 formation by going 4-3-3, a mistake that Kuwait exploited with two more goals.

“Even following the strategy we had in the first game, we have very good (scoring) chances. In the first half, we had more chances than they had, only they converted it, we didn’t. It’s actually more shooting exercises rather than a really different strategy to implement,” he said.

“Especially during the first half, we’re able to control them with our defense; their best player had to be substituted because he couldn’t penetrate our defense. But we became too adventurous, the distances between our back four and mid four became too much and we started moving forward.

“We had to sacrifice our defense then and with a team like Kuwait, you know you can’t deviate somewhat from your gameplan because they will really pounce on you,” he added.

The return of central defender Aly Borromeo and midfielder Stephan Schrock from suspensions gives the Azkals more confidence.

“The biggest factor would be the presence of Aly and Schrock. It gives us more experience and quality which was lacking in the first leg. With Aly back and with Schrock at the center as well, we’ll have stability in the midfield. We don’t really have to do much changes, we just have to stick with the plan and when given a chance to score, we have to convert it,” he said.

Having a 12th man on the familiar pitch of Rizal will also do the Azkals well.

“The crowd will help intimidate the Kuwaitis, for one, and secondly it will help lift the spirits of the players. We actually haven’t lost at home or conceded a goal at home for a long time, and this is partly because of the support of the home crowd,” Palami said.

The Azkals need to beat Al Azraq, 4-0, or even 5-1 to steal the matchup on aggregate and reach the third round.


Competition - Win Azkals Futbol Magazine !

First competion here . I got a July issue (no.5)of Azkals Futbol Magazine for the winner of the competion! July issue contains 9 pages interview with Chieffy Caligdong.

58 pages magazine still available in National Bookstore and American Boulevard. Visit also Azkals Futbol Magazine on Facebook

Question : Where is Emelio"Chieffy" Caligdong born ?

Deadline : Sunday July 31 ! email to joki20@hotmail.com

Udyakan 7-aside Football Festival , Kabankalan

Udyakan 7-aside Football Festival on July 30-31, 2011 at the Kabankalan Football Field!

July 30, 2011 (Saturday) - 6-8 years old mix boys and girls; U14 boys, U17boys
July 31, 2011 (Sunday) Ladies Open and Men's Open

Contact :

City of Kabankalan Football Club Facebook

Azkals need 100% game to win 2nd Leg

IN SPITE of the 3-nil loss against tougher and stronger Kuwait-Al Azraq squad last Sunday morning at the Mohammed Al Hamad Stadium in Kuwait City, the Philippine Men’s Football National Team-Azkals is not unfazed.

However, the squad needs 100% performance to win the 2nd Leg match on July 28 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila.

This was the analysis of PFF-Suzuki U23 National Cup champion Negros-Ceres Team assistant coach Ramon Janeo saying that in the 2nd leg in Manila, Azkals need to strengthen their midfield, defense and the act of finishing.

He also stressed that the team would play better if skipper Aly Borromeo and Fil-German midfielder Schrock will be able to play in this Leg.

“The team needs to control and stop the attack of Kuwait’s left and right wings. We know that it is very hard for the Azkals to beat Kuwait in the 2nd Leg as the Filipino booters have to score 4-0. But if they play 100% game, be more aggressive and won’t lose their hope to win, I think they could win the game. We always know na bilog naman ang bola, so in football anything can happen, Janeo explained.

Menawhile, Janeo described last Sunday’s match to be Kuwait’s game.

“If we watched that game, we will know that Kuwait is stronger and is playing better than the Azkals. And, if we compare both teams using statistics, maybe it’s 60-40 percentage. The problem with the Azkals is they did not convert all their chances to score a goal. They have attempts, like that from Phil Younghusband when he had a one-on-one with the goalkeeper yet he didn’t finish it. So that’s their problem,” Janeo said.

“With regards to the transition, the Azkals’ midfielder can’t stop and control Kuwait’s midfielder, that’s why the opponent has the ease to penetrate and able to make so many attempts where they converted 3 goals. Also, the Azkals’ defense didn’t play well with the absence of their central defender, Borromeo,” Janeo added.

On the other hand, Azkals’ media officer Rick Olivares described that disappointment was clearly visible on every one’s face inside the Azkals’ dugout. The team knew that the squad faced a difficult task against Kuwait, the highest FIFA-ranked team they have faced since this current squad was put together, Olivares said.

He also reiterated that team manager Dan Palami said that third goal made things harder for the Azkals going into the 2nd Leg. But the team official stressed that there’s a chance for the team, as long as they keep their heads together and play perfect team ball.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on July 26, 2011.

Goshenland, BSU Alumni arrange finals duel

GOSHENLAND simply outclassed Team Onse to barge into the finals while Benguet State University Alumni avenged its earlier loss to arrange a finals match up in the men’s open at the close of the first Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan Football Cup.

The undefeated Goshenland closed out their elimination with an emphatic 5-0 win-loss record before silencing the young Team Onse in their semis match up with a 5 -1 beating in the event co-organized by the Baguio United Football Club.

BSU Alumni, meanwhile, drubbed their younger counterparts by edging BSU Varsity in their semis match during the weekend play with a four goal difference, 5-1, in the event support by Goshenland Capitals.

The younger Varsity squad gearing up for the upcoming Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League earlier stung the alumni with an emphatic 6-1 victory Saturday morning in the weekly month-long tournament.

The less experienced Varsity squad, however, failed to sustain its win during the semis match in a rain soaked Melvin Jones football grounds.

Team Onse, composed of the Saint Louis University football squad, caught the last bus to the semis by edging Baguio City National High School Football Club with a 3-1 victory after the former absorbed a 2-0 beating against the BSU Varsity.

In the 7-a-side ladies open, Baguio Timanx of the fabled Baguio Cinderella football team drubbed their younger counterparts, Team Solid, 1-0, to advance in the finals with BSU A shooting down De La Salle Lipa, 3-0, also in the semis match.

The Timanx topped the eliminations with a clean 4 game victory while Baguio Solid and De La Salle shared the number two spot at the close of the eliminations with BSU A taking the last semis seat in the distaff event.

Team Solid then notched the third place plum after edging De La Salle while the Baguio Timanx and BSU A are set to square off with each other in the finals match next week.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 26, 2011.

25 July 2011

Azkals' Schroecki seeks revenge vs Kuwait

by Jojo Malig, abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines - Azkals midfielder Stephan Schroeck has vowed revenge in the home leg of the Philippines-Kuwait World Cup qualifying tie.

The Filipino-German, who missed the first leg of the tie because of suspension, is expected to pull the strings anew for the Azkals in midfield when they attempt to overhaul Kuwait's 3-goal lead at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Thursday.

"Make sure Manila is burning," said Schroeck, who plays professionally for 2nd Bundesliga club SpVgg Greuther Fuerth.

"Azkals will do it big vs Kuwait. We believe!" he said in his Facebook fan page.

Schroeck is scheduled to arrive in Manila Tuesday.

"He will be a big boost to the team," Azkals team manager Dan Palami told the website of the Asean Football Federation.

Another key member of the Azkals, skipper Aly Borromeo, will also strengthen the Philippines' defense after he served his one-game suspension for incurring 2 yellow cards like Schroeck.

"We have a tough job in Manila because of that 0-3 deficit," Palami said. "If only we could have a complete line-up for Manila. Anything is still possible if we get an early goal and with the crowd behind us."

Azkals gaffer Michael Weiss said Schroeck and Borromeo will be a big boost to the Philippine XI.

"On this level, you need players who have initiative, who are active and Schroeck is one of those and Aly," he told ABS-CBN News correspondent Dyan Castillejo.

Laser pointers

Meanwhile, Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge said he was bothered by laser lights pointed at him by unidentified Kuwaiti fans during their first-leg match.

"I told the referee, but that time he didn’t do anything about it; but that’s football," he said.

"You can not do anything about it when those things happen in the crowd, and you can't stop the game for it," Etheridge added.


Mapua 7-0 Malditas: Men too strong for Malditas

Manila, JULY 25 (Sugod.com) – The Mapua men’s football team were too strong for the Philippines women’s national football team after Mapua emerged victorious in a 7 goal thriller at their Ang Liga match held at the San Beda College football field last Sunday.

Mapua showed a great performance with fluidity and flair as they recorded a big victory over Malditas. It was a tough match for the Philippines women’s team who have been competing against different men’s football team in the Ang Liga football tournament.

Sabrina Nierras on-form for Malditas Under-19

Manila, JULY 25 (Sugod.com) – Sabrina Nierras magnificent brace against Loyola and winning goal against FEU Alumnae kept the Malditas Under-19 in good form at the Rexona Cup.

Malditas under-19 beat Loyola 1-nil and recorded an impressive 5-0 victory over FEU Alumnae with Nierras scoring the brace and Alex Camcam, Pam Diaz, and Elena Heuze getting a goal each.

The future members of Philippines women’s national football team had been competing in various football tournaments around the country including the Rexona Cup where they have been doing well lately.

Azkals plan to change strategy

MANILA, Philippines — With its back against the wall, the Philippine football team intends to switch to a more aggressive mode when it collides with Kuwait in the second game of their second round World Cup qualifying series on Thursday at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.

Unlike the first time they clashed where the Azkals stuck to their defensive game plan to the very end, the Azkals are willing to take the risk this time by attacking early in the hope of creating more opportunities.

Their opening game tactic proved catastrophic as they suffered a 3-0 defeat last Saturday in Hawalli, Kuwait.

“We will loosen up a bit in defense, press early and look for an early goal just like against Sri Lanka,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss, referring to their style of play in their 4-0 first-round triumph against Sri Lanka three weeks ago. “But of course, it’s risky.”

The German coach’s decision to turn offensive-minded stems from the fact that the Filipinos need to score four goals or more to overcome Kuwait and advance to the third round of the qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

A 3-0 win by the Azkals will force an extra time.

The task seems insurmountable, but the 46-year-old Weiss isn’t about to raise the white flag.

“We were hesitant last time. If we get a goal in the first half, we will have a very good chance especially with the home crowd helping us,” Weiss said.

Petron“Anything is possible in football.”

A sell out crowd of 13,000 is expected at Rizal where kickoff is 7 p.m.

The return of skipper Aly Borromeo and Fil-German Stephan Schrock from one-game suspensions augurs well for their planned forceful stance in the return leg, Weiss said.

Despite the lopsided loss last Saturday, Weiss commends his wards for their tough stand.

“For me, the team played well unlike what most people are saying. We had a great fight in Kuwait. The first half, and that was the best match we have played under my guidance. We had clear chances in counters and if we had scored, you know how the match could turn.

We knew we will meet a highly advanced power in the gulf region in Kuwait and it was obvious after the game that we are not yet on that level,” Weiss said. “But I’ve been with the team for six months and we made good progress.”

Weiss admitted that the Azkals’ lack of experience in terms of playing together was exposed in the loss.

“That’s the money we have to pay for our inexperience,” said Weiss, adding that Fil-Dutch Paul Maulders, Jerry Lucena and Dennis Caraga are unlikely to play in the second leg because of their club commitments.

Kuwait coach Goran Tufegdzic credits Weiss for giving them a tough fight in the first half.

“I was satisfied only for the second half for how our team played. Michael (Weiss) read us well and he scouted us well in the first half,” the Serbian coach said.

“I’m not surprised. I know this team (Philippines) has good players. This team is strong and very serious if it keeps to system.”

Manila Bulletin

Philippines Women`s NT - Malditas

UFL - Kaya FC Open try out

Open try out week in Manila Polo Club! Come by either Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 4:00 - 6:00 PM.

Kaya FC - Twitter

24 July 2011

Azkals need miracle to overcome Kuwaitis

THE road to the World Cup is getting narrower and bumpier for the Philippine Azkals and they now need a miracle to reach the planet's biggest soccer stage.

After going down 0-3 in the second round's first leg of their Asian World Cup qualifier against Kuwait Sunday, the Azkals will have to come up with something special in the second leg of their qualifying match at the Rizal Football Stadium in Manila on July 28.

A team that waltzed past Sri Lanka in the first round is now facing elimination against a far more superior team in Kuwait, which hammered in three goals in the opening match to underscore its dominance on the turf.

By yielding three goals, the Azkals must at least score four goals and prevent the Kuwaitis from scoring in their home stand on July 28 if they hope to advance into the third round of the Asian qualifier.

This is easier said than done as the Kuwaitis clearly are the more skillfull booters. And what compounded the Azkals' woes was their failure to give Filipino-British strike Phil Younghusband support during counter-attacks.

Because they switched to defensive mode against the Kuwaitis, the Azkals often find Younghusband alone on top that minimized their scoring chances.

Though the Philippine side has some several good shots at the goal in the first half -- two right-footed blasts from Younghusband and Angel Guirado's header that hit the crossbar off a Chiffey Caligdong corner kick -- the Kuwaitis were in total control of the match. (CRAM)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 25, 2011.

Stephan Schrock to rejoin Azkals for second leg against Kuwait

By Cedelf P. Tupas

KUWAIT CITY—Filipino-German standout Stephan Schrock will return to Manila to give the Philippine Azkals more midfield bite in their second round World Cup Qualifying clash against powerhouse Kuwait.
Azkals manager Dan Palami confirmed that Schrock, who was suspended for the first leg, will be arriving tomorrow, two days before the return match against the Kuwaitis at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.
“He will be a big boost to the team,” Palami said of Schrock, who was a key figure in the first-round win over Sri Lanka.
Schrock’s presence is vital for the Azkals, who may continue to miss the services of midfielders Paul Mulders (injury) and Jerry Lucena (club commitments).
Aly Borromeo is also expected to return after serving his suspension. He was seen taking notes during the first game against Kuwait from the grandstand.
Palami agreed with coach Michael Weiss that the 0-3 deficit may be too big to overcome on aggregate. But the two Azkals officials remain hopeful of an upset.
“We have a tough job in Manila because of that 0-3 deficit,” said Palami. “If only we could have a complete lineup for Manila.”
“Anything is still possible if we get an early goal and with the crowd behind us,” said Weiss.


PFF Smart National Championship - Quarterfinals

PFF National Club Championship , quarterfinals 9. to 13. August

In Iloilo :

Stallion FC (Iloilo)
Pachanga FC (NCR)
Goshenland Fc (Baguio)
Colombia Fc (Davao)

in Cagayan de Oro City :

Pelaez Sports Complex, Cagayan de Oro City

August 9, 11, & 13 (2-5pm)

Technika (Global FC , NCR)
Ba-o- Breakers , Iligan
Laos FC , Leyte
San Beda Fc , Rizal

Philippine Azkals bow to Kuwait

By Cedelf Tupas

HAWALLI—Unable to build on a stellar yet unlucky first half performance, the Philippine Azkals fell in a 0-3 defeat to Middle East powerhouse Kuwait in the opening leg of their second round World Cup Qualifying duel here.

The Al-Azraq backed up their pedigree with a solid attacking display to thump the hard-fighting Filipinos, who had two shots that hit the crossbar in the first 30 minutes.

The second leg is slated Thursday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila with the Azkals needing to win by four goals or more to make the third round for the first time.

“Anything is still possible in the second leg,” said Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss.

“This time it’s not over. We still have 90 minutes in Manila,” said Kuwait coach Goran Tufegdzic.

There was no doubting the Kuwaitis’ dominance on this night, though.

Yousef Naser opened the scoring, before goals from Mesad Nasa and Fahed El-Ibrahim sealed the victory for the Kuwaitis, who are now well-positioned to reach the third round following the comprehensive win.

The Azkals, who missed skipper Aly Borromeo and Stephan Schrock due to suspension, put up a solid, resolute stand in the first half to stifle a Kuwaiti attack, but were unlucky to concede and also not get on the scoresheet, with Phil Younghusband and Angel Guirado both getting golden chances to score in the opening 30 minutes.

Looking to finish off a quick counter-attacking move, Younghusband drew a diving save from Nawaf Al Khaldi on a one-on-one, setting up the corner that nearly gave Guirado the first goal.

But the Fil-Spanish striker headed Chieffy Caligdong’s corner to the crossbar and Jason Sabio’s header was cleared off the line by Hussain Fadhel.

The chances only woke up the Kuwaitis, who within seconds, finally grabbed the lead thanks to young striker Yousef Naser.

Fahad Al-Enezi, the right winger, who had proven to be a menace on attack, beat Manny Ott and Chieffy Caligdong to cross for Yousef, who banged the header into the bottom corner past the flailing arms of Neil Etheridge.

The Al-Azraq’s possession play was still negated by some resolute defending by the Azkals and on the counter, the visitors came close again in the 30th minute.

Anton del Rosario launched a long throw from the backline to Guirado, whose lofted ball found a rushing Younghusband on the run.

Finding space to shoot, Younghusband rifled a thunderous shot from just outside the area, forcing another reflex save from Al-Khaldi and the slightest of touches allowed the ball to ricochet off the crossbar again.

The tide began to change in the second half when the Al-Azraq put more pressure on the defensive line from the left flank, leading to several corner kicks and half-chances.

The pressure paid off in the 66th minute when defender Mesad Nada poked the ball home during a scramble in the box after his header off a corner was blocked.

The Al-Azraq’s pattern of dominance continued and with five minutes remaining with the Azkals growing weary, Fahed El-Ibrahim fired a shot from 20 yards to beat Etheridge.

The score would have been a little more lopsided if not for a couple of close range stops from Etheridge, who flew in from England on the eve of the match.


23 July 2011

New players for Manila match ?

Aly Borromeo will be ready after suspension.

Jerry Lucena , playing club match on 24 and 30. July .

Paul Mulders , if he is injured he will not go to Manila , if he is fit he will probably go with club to European League qualifiers in Cyprus on 28. July

Stephan Schröck , is expected to arrive Manila on Tuesday.

Kuwait hammers Philippine Azkals

MANILA, Philippines - Kuwait defeated the Philippine Azkals, 3-0, in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup qualifying match at the 25,000-seater Mohammad Al-Hammad (Qadsia Club) stadium in Hawally.

Yousef Nasser opened the scoring with a header in the 16th minute that evaded goalkeeper Neil Etheridge's outstretched hands.

Musaed Neda made it 2-0 in a goalmouth scramble in the 65th minute. Replays of the goal showed that it may have been an own goal by an Azkals defender.

Fahed Al-Ibrahim preyed on the tiring Philippine side with a long-range thunderbolt in the 85th minute.

The Philippines nearly scored a few minutes into the first half when Phil Younghusband, who played a lone striker role, went one-on-one with the Kuwaiti goalkeeper, who parried off his shot.

A resulting corner saw an Angel Guirado header rattle the crossbar.

Younghusband also hit the crossbar in a long-range volley in the 30th minute.

Kuwait, the defending Gulf Cup of Nations champion, dominated possession in the match, with the Azkals deciding to sit back in a counterattacking 4-5-1 formation.

The Kuwaiti players launched their attacks through long balls to the sides of the box, while the Azkals resorted to long balls to Younghusband, who often found himself isolated and looking for a teammate.

After end-to-end action in the first half, the Azkals lost steam in the second half.

Their coach, Michael Weiss did not bring in fresh legs into the match even after the 80th minute, when cramps and the heat were taking their toll on his players.

The win was Kuwait's 8th-straight victory.

The Azkals started the game with Neil Etheridge, Rob Gier, Jason Sabio, Anton del Rosario, James Younghusband, Phil Younghusband, Manuel Ott, Jason de Jong, Ray Anthony Jónsson, Chieffy Caligdong, and Angel Guirado.

Meanwhile, Kuwait's starting XI were Nawaf Al Khaldi, Dfamer Matoug, Fahad Awad, Hussain Fadhel, Mesad Nada, Fahad Al Enezi, Fahed el Ibrahim, Talal el Amer, Waleid Ali, Bader al Mutwa, and Yousef Naser.

The Philippines missed the services of skipper Aly Borromeo and Stephan Schroeck, who were suspended for the first leg of the tie against Kuwait after they incurred 2 yellow cards in the opening round of the World Cup qualifiers.

Weiss used a defense-oriented, counterattacking 4-5-1 formation in lieu of his favored 4-4-2 system.

The formation looked to have worked well in the first half, with Kuwait failing to penetrate the Azkals' defense.

However, with fatigue setting in, the Philippines' defenders sat deep in the second half, allowing Kuwait attack with impunity.

Veteran winger Chieffy Caligdong, who scored twice in the Azkals' recent friendly matches with the Bahrain Under-23 XI, was captain of the Philippine side.

Kuwait coach's Serbian coach, Goran Tufegdzic, told the Arab Times before the match that he wanted his team to beat the Azkals, 3-0, in the opening leg.

However, Tufegdzic reiterated that they respect the Philippine team. "We are not treating them as first-timers although, Kuwait is more experienced," he said.

Azkals team manager Dan Palami said he is proud of the Azkals for reaching this far into the competition. "Whatever we do, we always have to remember the time when talent and resources were scarce and all we had was heart," he said.

The second leg of the World Cup qualifying tie will be held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on July 28.


YouTube - Kuwait vs Azkals , second half

YouTube - Kuwait vs Azkals , First half

Today : Kuwait 3-0 Philippines FT

FIFA World Cup qualifier Kuwait vs Philippines

Time : 19.30 (Kuwait) , 18.30 (CET) 12.30 am (Philippines)

Tv : ABS CBN from 11.30

Replay on July 24: Channel 2 (7am); Balls Sky Cable Ch 43 (3pm); Studio 23 (10pm)

Livescore : futbol24.com

Twitter : Cedelf Tupas , GMA news

Temp : 45 degrees...

News, predictions , line-up, comments before , during and after match. Post in comments.

Good luck Azkals !!

Post good livestreams that work !

22 July 2011

‘Trust the Azkals’

AS THE Philippine football team reprises its underdog role against Kuwait in the second round of the Fifa World Cup qualifiers, local coaches believe there’s only a slim chance for a victory.

Kuwait is among the strongest teams in Asia and football experts agree they hold the advantage against the Philippines.

“Slim ang chance pero pwede na mahitabo na madaog gihapon ta. Ang bola lingin, dili pwede mawala atong paglaum,” said Little Azkals coach Oliver Colina, who was once part of the Under 23 training pool.

Colina, who has been coaching the 13-Under team since 2009, said whatever the results in the away game, the Philippines will bounce back in the second leg in the country.

“The Azkals are the Azkals. We need to trust our Azkals, we need to support them
whatever happens,” he said.

Colina believed that the Azkals’ performance should be consistent with their last game, where they were more on the offensive.

On the other hand, Cebu Football Association board member and University of Southern Philippines–Foundation Coach Eleazar Toledo predicted that the squad will focus on defensive strategies in the opponent’s turf.

“Kuwait, based on history and statistics, is a strong team but then again, we can’t give up. They won’t play loose on us, they will play tight against the Philippines,” Toledo said.

He believes that the Azkals should focus more on defense, particularly on team blocking, and guard possible attackers in the middle from going close to the goal.

“In an away game, we have to hold it for the whole 90 minutes, and ari na sa Pilipinas mubanat sa second game,” Toledo said.

He also mentioned that a draw will still be a good result but if the Azkals can score, it will be better.

“If we can hold on until the end, then we can have a good chance in the home game, which is a big factor. But we can never tell because Kuwait is an attack-oriented team,” Toledo said.

And with Aly Borromeo and Stephan Shrock missing the first leg, Toledo thinks Paul Mulders and Rob Gier will replace the booked players.

Borromeo and Shrock got two yellow cards in the first round and got one-game suspensions. The Philippines filed an appeal and the Asian Football Confederation granted it. However, Fifa, which has the final say, denied the AFC decision and upheld the original one-game ban.

Both coaches believed that in the away game, a draw will do for the national team. They can have the chance to redeem themselves in the home game in front of a cheering Filipino crowd at the Rizal Stadium.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 23, 2011.


Pilipinas-RIFA Boys U13, a selection of best players from four member schools of the Rizal Football Association (RIFA), won 3rd place in the U13 Male Cup Competition of the recently concluded Kanga Cup held in Canberra, the capital of Australia, last July 10-15.

The team’s toughest challenge was playing in chilly weather conditions with mean temperatures of 6 degrees C. After suffering a couple of defeats in the first two days, the boys adapted to the winter season and won their last two games in the elimination round over local Australian teams Trinity Grammar and Southwest Queensland to qualify for the semifinals, but lost to eventual champion PoCheolDong PS of Korea, 1-3, in a tightly-contested match.
Kanga Cup is the largest youth football tournament in the southern hemisphere and one of the biggest in the world. This year’s 21st edition of the football festival had 231 team participants with 3,600 players seeing action in over 600 games. Apart from the Philippines, there were three other international teams, Korea, Malaysia and New Zealand. This is the first time that a Philippine team participated in the event.
Headed by Coach Billy Naluz and Team Manager Mallotte Santos, the team is composed of Carl See (team captain), Ryan Delos Reyes and Jared Yu of Xavier School; Jolo Cadiz of Ateneo; Mauro Acot, Paolo Caballero, Sam Lim, Aldrin Malvarosa and Matthew Osit of Colegio San Agustin; and Alec Adeva, Migo Arcega, Mico Protacio, Raja Santos and Anakin Violan of HEdCen.

A grant from the Kanga Cup Organising committee, through Kanga Cup tournament director Mr. Adam Castle, enabled the Pilipinas-RIFA Boys U13 team to fund most of their tournament expenses. Mr. Sorin Clenci of Pinoy Football Aid, some members of the Filipino community in Canberra and a local company, AdStrat, also gave their support to the team.

Azkals’ homegrown heroes

For battle-scarred veterans Chieffy Caligdong, Roel Gener and Ian Araneta, their newfound fame and that of the Philippine Azkals is just a bonus.

To them, what’s important is that football is now a sport that Filipinos are starting to embrace. Everything that comes after is just icing on the cake.

“It’s always enough for us that we have made football popular in the country,” said the 28-year-old Caligdong, a veteran of the national team since 2004.

“Our satisfaction comes when kids come to us and say that they also want to play and be an Azkal in the future,” said Araneta, who joined the national team as a reed-thin 19-year-old in 2002.

‘We want to inspire’
“We just want to inspire the young generation to embrace the sport,” said Gener, an Armyman who, at 37, is the oldest member of the current squad.

The three players all came from the football haven of Barotac Nuevo, a 45-minute drive from Iloilo City. Kids learn the game early in Barotac. Drop a football and chances are kids will play passing games and show off their skills that breed individual panache.

Football is deeply rooted among residents of Barotac Nuevo so it came as no surprise when an overwhelming crowd showed up for an international match pitting the Philippines against Bhutan three years ago.

Homecoming match
The Azkals got an even warmer reception when they returned to play an exhibition match in Barotac last June. Caligdong, Araneta and Gener made their homecoming memorable when they played in the same field where they honed their skills as kids.

The three have also played against each other over the years, but that hardly matters as their relationships go beyond the field. Once, in a tightly-contested final of a beach football tournament a few years ago, Gener accidentally hit Caligdong in the jaw.

Strengthened bond
The injury was serious and left Caligdong sidelined for several months. The adversity only strengthened their bond.

When Araneta went on a dry scoreless spell, Caligdong and Gener were among those who pushed him not to give up. Gener and Caligdong competed for starting spots during the Suzuki Cup main tournament but the competition was healthy and each player goaded the other to do well for the country.

When Caligdong scored the opening goal against Mongolia in the AFC Challenge Cup pre-qualifying stage in Bacolod, Gener was the first to congratulate him as he celebrated to the delight of the Azkals faithful.

“We are like brothers here,” said Araneta.

Residents still are not surprised when they see the trio playing on the local plaza field barefoot as they had done so when they were kids.

“We are proud we grew up in Barotac,” said Caligdong.

More Inquirer.net

Philippine Azkals go to battle sans skipper Aly Borromeo

KUWAIT—For a team that thrives on adversity, this one will prove to the ultimate test.

Already a heavy underdog in the biggest match of their history, the Philippine Azkals will have to make do without skipper Aly Borromeo when they battle Middle East powerhouse Kuwait in the first leg of their second round World Cup Qualifying duel Saturday night at the Mohammad Al-Hammad Stadium in Hawalli.

Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. (12:30 a.m. Sunday in Manila) with the Azkals needing nothing less than a flawless effort against a team considered as the best in the Gulf region and ranked 56 rungs higher than them in the international football rankings.

“We must show that we deserve to be on this level,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss, who took the reigns of the fast-rising team six months ago. “For 90 minutes, we’ll give [Kuwait] a hard time.”

Chieffy Caligdong, a linchpin on the attack who has scored in the last three matches including in the two exhibition matches against Bahrain Under-23 Olympic team last week, is expected to lead the Azkals in Borromeo’s absence.

The fleet-footed winger from Barotac Nuevo will be part of the attack line composed of Phil and James Younghusband and Angel Guirado that will have more defensive responsibilities against what appears to be a more organized and menacing attacking side in the Kuwaitis.

Fortune hasn’t been favoring the Azkals in the buildup to the match with experienced players like midfielders Jerry Lucena and Paul Mulders all ruling themselves out of the Kuwait clash. The young duo of Manuel Ott and Jason de Jong are expected to start at central midfielders.

The last-minute decision of the International Football Federation to reject the appeal by the Philippine Football Federation to cancel the suspension of Borromeo and Stephan Schrock was another massive blow for the side, whose stock rose when they made the semifinals of the Suzuki Cup last December.

Azkals manager Dan Palami hopes the decision will fire up the Azkals.

“Up until the last minute we had always hoped that this will not be the case,” said Palami of Fifa’s decision. “We just have to be better and be more ferocious and be more tenacious.”

Although they had already anticipated Borromeo’s suspension, the coaching staff is in a quandary as to how to assemble the back four. One probable scenario is moving rightback Anton del Rosario to the center together with Rob Gier, insert Jason Sabio as right back and Ray Jonsson, who arrived here yesterday, returning to leftback.

The Azkals can draw inspiration from the string of upsets they pulled off during the past months that boosted their reputation, but Weiss said tonight’s match is all that matters now.

“We reach a certain stage where we have to be men, get our caps off and do everything, not with words but facts on the pitch,” said Weiss.

The stadium, the home of the club team Al-Qadsia, can accommodate up to 25,000, but Filipino fans here were allotted only 4,000 tickets.


PH loses appeal to let 2 Azkals play

MANILA, Philippines – FIFA, football's world governing body, has denied the Philippine Football Federation's (PFF) appeal to lift the 1-game suspension on 2 key Azkals, Aly Borromeo and Stephan Schrock.

The decision is seen to hurt the Philippine Azkals' away game on Saturday in Kuwait.

“We will be playing the 1st leg without Schrocky and Aly,” Azkals team manager Dan Palami said via his Twitter account.

The team was hoping that FIFA would heed PFF's appeal, especially after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) endorsed the petition to rescind the suspensions on Borromeo and Schrock.

Borromeo and Schrock were suspended for 1 game after each of them incurred 2 yellow cards during the 1st round qualifier between the Philippine Azkals and the Sri Lankan Brave Reds.

The two Azkals played major roles in the Azkals’ 5-1 aggregate victory against Sri Lanka in Manila.

Borromeo was a big part in the Azkals’ defensive scheme while Schrock was instrumental in providing scoring opportunities for his team mates.

Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss, however, remains hopeful of their chances against the higher-ranked Kuwait on Saturday.

"We are underdogs in many aspects, but the team [members] are on their top form, and we will strive to defy the odds," he said in FIFA.com.

ABS CBN news

Azkals - Team update

James Hall : Left Kuwait , going back to England

OJ Porteria : No Philippine passport , cant play tomorrow

Neil Etheridge : Still in England .... should have been on a plane now for Kuwait

Alex Borromeo /Stephan Schröck , latest from Palami is that they CANT play tomorrow. FIFA final decision.

Fil-foreigners to try out for PH Malditas

THE Philippine Malditas women’s national football team is going the the Azkals’ way with the arrival of two Fil-foreign players from the United States and Germany.

Team manager and coach Ernie Nierras said yesterday that Fil-American Heather Cooke and Fil-German Cristina Keuter will join the tryouts for the national women’s team in the next few weeks.

The 22-year-old Cooke, whose father is a US naval officer and whose mother is a Filipina, is one of the best defensive players of the Arunderl Soccer Association Chesapeake Charge, which made it to the Division I quarterfinals of the Women’s Professional Soccer League in the US.

While attending college at the Loyola University in Maryland, she was a four-year women’s soccer letter winner, an All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference First Team honoree and a recipient of the Ernest Lagna and John R. Moller awards.

The 21-year-old Keuter, whose father is German and whose mother is a Filipina from Kabankalan, Negros Occidental, is a member of the SC Fortuna squad in Cologne.

“They are not yet shoo-ins to the team. But I will see them soon during the team inspections,” said Nierras, who is conducting regular tryouts and practices at the pitch of the University of Makati.

Nierras said the Malditas have been inactive for the last 18 months, but are set to see action in the Group Stage of the ASEAN Football Federation Women’s Championship slated Oct. 15 to 25 in Laos. Peter Atencio

Manila Standard Today

21 July 2011

Neil Etheridge , on bench for Fulham tonight !

Neil Etheridge was on bench for Fulham FC tonight in European League qualifier against Crusaders from Northern Ireland.

Fulham won 4-0 and advanced to next round.

BBC Sport

Wonder if he really will be travelling to Kuwait tomorrow and play Kuwait next day ?

Update :

Fulham face RNK Split from Croatia on 28. July in next round. Neil may not be playing in Manila ?

Cebu Football - Cesafi, CFA to synch schedules

AS THE local football season goes full swing, organizers of two events have decided to coordinate with each other to avoid conflict of schedules and to maximize participation.

This year, the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. and the Cebu Football Association (CFA) decided to coordinate their schedules for a better turnout of each tournament.

“We can work together. No problem,” said CFA Board Member and Eleazar Toledo.

Cesafi commissioner Felix Tiukinhoy earlier said he’s willing to coordinate the schedule with the other events, not just football, to avoid conflicts.

The two groups have already met to ensure there will be an orderly scheduling of the tournaments, which will both be held at the Aboitiz Sportsfield.

This is in connection with the strict rule of Cesafi prohibiting players from playing in other tournaments outside the Cesafi.

The Cesafi football tournament will start on Aug. 27 and will not be in conflict with the Aboitiz Cup, tentatively scheduled in the first week of September.

“Paunahon sa namo sila. Kung kanus-a mahuman ang Cesafi kay i-insert na lang ang teams sa Aboitiz,” said Toledo, who is also the coach of the University of Southern Philippines Foundation.

The Aboitiz Cup will have the Under 19 and Under 23 divisions this year and the champions in both divisions, made up mostly of Cesafi players, will represent Cebu in the regional eliminations.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 22, 2011.

Limpag: Time for Cebu to host an Azkal match?

OUTSIDE of Bacolod, Cebu was one of the cities to embrace the Azkals and to host a friendly between the team and a selection of local players.

Fans who saw the game didn’t go home disappointed, as the Azkals won by a mile, 6-0, on a hat trick by Phil Younghusband and they were able to interact with the players after the match.

The team returned to Cebu for a friendly of sorts last year—at the USC SVD center field against a team of expat-volunteers—with only the opposing team, friends and kids as the audience.

Dan Palami, who was also in that friendly, told me he wouldn’t mind returning to those roots—playing in small friendly games—but I doubt if it would happen.

Not that I doubt Sir Dan’s words, I simply think that if the Azkals play at the USC SVD center again, there would be too many fans there won’t be enough space to play on.

But wouldn’t it be great for Cebuanos to see the team in action in Cebu? It would be a great reward for fan loyalty and for—in Dan’s words—“embracing the team before the rest of the country did.”

Dan, the players who were here last summer, and even Coach Michael Weiss, all want to return to Cebu for training and even a friendly.

But, as Dan said last summer, “I can’t believe there’s no stadium in Cebu.”

Of course we have the Cebu City Sports Center but you’d have to be nuts to suggest the team play there and I didn’t suggest it.

That will all change in a few months—November to be exact according to Ricky Ballesteros.

The football field—or the Abellana Dust Bowl as Graeme Mackinnon calls it---will get a makeover, one befitting a football field that is inside a sports complex.

And what’s the better way to open a rehabilitated football field than to host an Azkal match against Cebu’s best players?
The idea isn’t mine.

“I want to invite the Azkals for a tuneup game. Maybe even the Under 23 team since they are preparing for the SEA Games,” CCSC manager Ricky Ballesteros told me last week.

I hope it pushes through because when fans flock to the CCSC, the PFF and Azkals management won’t be just thinking of Bacolod and Manila when the country hosts a game.

“Why not Cebu? They got a nice stadium,” I can almost hear them say.

And, as an added incentive, we’re going to give “them scalpers” free orange suits and let them dance Michael Jackson’s Thriller if they dare show up.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 21, 2011.

Fighting draw will be huge for Azkals against Kuwa

By Cedelf Tupas

KUWAIT—A victory will be “massive” but a fighting draw against Kuwait will also be enough for the Philippine Azkals to leave this oil-rich country with a big measure of satisfaction.
As heavy underdogs in their second-round World Cup Qualifying clash, the Azkals are opting for a more conservative approach that could turn Saturday night’s match into a cagey encounter at the Mohammed El-Hammad Stadium in Hawalli.
“A 1-1 or 0-0 result will be huge for us,” skipper Aly Borromeo said. “If we let them whip us here, then the series is over. We are more worried about the first leg (on Saturday). It will set the tone for our home leg.”
The Azkals will have their turn hosting the Kuwaitis on July 28 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Tickets for the match are reportedly sold out.
For now, though, the focus is on neutralizing a vaunted Kuwaiti attack, which is enjoying a high level of confidence following impressive victories over Iraq and Saudi Arabia in a four-nation tournament in Jordan last week.
Borromeo said the pressure is on Kuwait to deliver a comprehensive win before its home fans.
“We’re always underdogs, so we’re not under pressure,” said the skipper, who is still awaiting the final decision on his one-game suspension for getting two yellow cards in the first-round win over Sri Lanka.
Though deprived of a complete lineup, Azkals coach Michael Weiss said he’s pleased with the buildup of his squad.
Leftback Ray Jonsson, who missed the Sri Lanka tie, was expected to arrive here yesterday, while goalkeeper Neil Etheridge will fly in on Friday.
“I’m quite content,” said Weiss. “I think that the boys are now counting the hours toward the match. As they say in England, it’s a massive match. It will give us an idea where we stand and I’m quite positive we can do well if we play the way we want to play.”
Weiss’ confidence stems from the fact that they have scouted the Kuwaitis well. “We have studied the opponent very carefully,” Weiss said. “The players know exactly what they are dealing with.”
The German mentor also shrugged off earlier fears that the warm weather here would pose a problem for his team, after supervising their first training Wednesday night where temperatures hovered from 32 to 38 degrees.
“It’s even more pleasant that the heat is not an issue,” said Weiss. “If (Wednesday night’s weather) is the same on Saturday, we would be fine.”
Kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m. on Saturday (12 midnight Sunday in Manila).
Weiss acknowledged that a perfect execution of the game plan will be needed to stymie Kuwait.
“We have to be aggressive and tight and not let them start their game. That’s a thing that takes 90 minutes and we’ve seen before, small mistakes get punished immediately. They will not allow us to switch off our computer, as I always say, for one second.”


Aly keeping the faith, vows to clamp down on Kuwaitis

By Olmin Leyba (philstar.com)

KUWAIT – For Azkals captain Aly Borromeo, a palatable scoreless draw or a 1-1 standoff with higher-ranked Kuwait is not a remote possibility, especially if the Filipinos can overcome Al-Azraq in the middle.

"If we hold them here, we can come through (scoring) in Manila," said central defender Borromeo, on pins and needles while the International Football Federation is yet to give its final say on Phl's appeal on his suspension for Saturday's first match.

"We have to contain them here; a 1-1, 0-0 (full time count) will be a huge result for us. If we let them take advantage of us here, if we so much as give them a little momentum or space and they score 3-4 goals, with a gap like that, then definitely the series is over; we'll have tough time getting back in Manila," he added.

Borromeo and Fil-German Stephan Schrock have been suspended for the first leg of the Azkals' second-round duel with Kuwait in the 2014 Fifa World Cup Asian Qualifiers as a result of their cumulative yellow cards in the opening stage against Sri Lanka. The Filipinos have asked for the cancellation of the cautions and got endorsement from the Asian Football Confederation.

"Mentally, physically, I'm still psyching myself to be on that pitch come Saturday," said the Azkals’ skipper.

So much so that to him, there seems to be "weak" spot in the Kuwaitis' midfield.

"From videos we've seen of Kuwait, I think in midfield we'll win because they (Kuwait) are not very dynamic in the midfield," he said, hoping that young guys like Manny Ott and Jason de Jong can step up.

"If whoever will start in our midfield, like Manny or Jason or whoever is there, can overcome their midfield, then I think we have a chance. I won't say we'll dominate the game (with this), but it will put them on their backs, put pressure on them because all they do is play the flanks a lot then they drop their ball to their forwards," he noted.

For him, the pressure to notch a "W" lies more on the shoulders of Kuwait here.

"We're always underdogs, anyway, so we're not under pressure or anything. Pressure's definitely on them, this is still their homecourt but it does help to have thousands of Filipinos backing us up, also gives the motivation we need so that's a huge bonus," he said.

At least 5,000 OFWs have promised to rally behind the Azkals for this match.


ANC to air 'Azkals: Rise of the Underdogs'

MANILA, Philippines – ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) will feature the Philippine Azkals in a 1-hour special on the eve of the Nationals’ game against Kuwait.

The special report, “The Azkals, Rise of the Underdogs,” will be aired on Friday, 7 pm.

The 1-hour special takes a look at the Azkals’ beginnings and their rise to popularity.

The feature will be hosted by ANC’s Boyet Sison.

Azkals vs Kuwait on Channel 2

Meanwhile, the Philippine Azkals' away game versus the Kuwait Al-Azraq (The Blue) will be aired live on Channel 2 on Saturday (July 23).

The show will start with a primer at 11:30 p.m.

Kick-off will be at 12:30 a.m.

Game replays:

July 24 (Sunday) 7 a.m. Channel 2
July 24 (Sunday) 3 p.m. Balls SkyCable Channel 43
July 24 (Sunday) 10 p.m. Studio 23
July 26 (Tuesday) 4:30 p.m. Balls SkyCable Channel 43

ABS CBN news

Young Ott, De Jong man crucial siege line

By Cedelf P. Tupas

UWAIT—Their combined age is just three years older than the Philippine Azkals’ most senior member, but the heavy burden on their young shoulders doesn’t seem to bother Manny Ott and Jason de Jong.
With the more experienced midfielders unavailable because of club commitments, Ott, 19, and De Jong, 21, are expected to be deployed as central midfielders in the highly anticipated second-round World Cup Qualifying clash against Kuwait on Saturday.
The top three choices for the two positions—Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena and Paul Mulders—will miss the Kuwait match.
Teams in the Middle East are known for their physical and rugged style, but Ott and De Jong, the tough-tackling Fil-Dutch standout, feel they are ready for the challenge.
Ott hones his skills with FC Ingolstadt in Germany and has mixed it up with more experienced players.
“I’m used to playing against bigger players even though I am Asian-size,” said the 5-foot-6 Ott, whose mother hails from Boracay in Malay, Aklan.
“I just want to do my best and help the team. I don’t want to be pressured. I want to enjoy the game.”
It’s this easygoing personality that has endeared Ott to the Azkals, whose most senior member is Roel Gener, 37.
While Ott is known for his calm demeanor, De Jong, who traces his roots in Tarlac, has established a reputation as one who plays with a lot of tenacity.
The central midfield partnership will mark the first time that both Ott and De Jong will play together since the Suzuki Cup in Laos last year.
“My role is always to be like the extra man in front of the defense, you know like play hard physically and just let no balls come through,” said De Jong.
“I’m just here to help, and let’s see what’s gonna happen.”
Skipper Aly Borromeo sees the partnership as crucial if the Azkals are to stifle Kuwait’s attacking game.
“If Manny and Jason can overcome their midfield, I think we have chance,” said Borromeo.