07 September 2012
Azkals confident, invade Lions lair
By Olmin Leyba
SINGAPORE – The Philippine Azkals move on to the next assignment after a rather bland result against Cambodia over in Phnom Penh Wednesday night, hopeful they can come up with a better showing under better conditions against a Singaporean side that’s considerably above the opponent they faced two days before.
“Hopefully, they will play better against Singapore,” said Philippine Nonong Araneta on the eve of the Azkals’ 7:45 p.m. friendly with the Lions at the Jurong West Stadium here.
The Azkals (150th in the Fifa world rankings) played the 191st-ranked Cambodians to a goal-less draw, their bid hurt by inaccurate finishing on the sloppy pitch at Phnom Penh’s National Olympic Stadium that was made worse by the heavy downpour in the last 25 minutes or so.
It was a matchup the Pinoy booters actually had virtual control of, as evidenced by post-game stats: 18 attempts, including 11 shots on goal, against Cambodia’s five tries, three of which had good line. Phl XI also earned nine corners against Angkor Warriors’ three.
Phil Younghusband sent a shot from eight yards wide at the eighth minute, somehow giving a portent of things to come for the Pinoys, who couldn’t seem find the mark against Cambodia.
Patrick Reichelt and Denis Wolf, who both checked in for Jerry Lucena and Phil Younghusband after the halftime break, respectively, also had their chances in the Azkals’ searing attempts at a late goal.
Playing solidly at the right side, Reichelt had a pair of incursions, one ending up hitting the post and another going straight to Cambodian custodian Su Yati. Wolf had his own opportunity to put it in but somehow lost control at the last-second in the wet field.
“We could have done better considering we were facing (a lower ranked opponent in) Cambodia,” said Araneta, noting that the pitch and the rains “could have been a factor but not so much an excuse.”
“Positive results from young ones. On another day and another pitch, we could have taken it,” observed skipper Aly Borromeo, who stayed behind in Manila to rest his hurting knee.
The game, Phl and Cambodia’s first since a 0-0 draw in the qualifying round of the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup, also enabled coach Michael Weiss to rotate his squad more.
The team had a better composition in that game, with the Fil-Europeans like Neil Etheridge, Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders, and Rob Gier coming and James Younghusband, Weiss and team manager Dan Palami freed from serving out their respective suspensions yet.
Pending hearing by the Philippine Football Federation’s appeals committee on Sept. 14, the implementation of Younghusband’s one-game sitout and Weiss and Palami’s two-game ban had been temporarily suspended.