BANGKOK – Although the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has lost its bid to host the final round of the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup to Maldives, it was offered one of the qualifying meets, giving the Azkals the homefield edge in its bid to make the main draw of the second-tier bootfest in Asia.
PFF president Nonong Araneta said he was told by AFC vice president Ganesh Thapa and executive committee member Winston Lee on the sidelines of this week’s AFC meeting in Kuala Lumpur that the Azkals will host one of the group qualifiers slated March next year.
The composition of the four nations in each group will be determined in a drawing of lots by next month. The top two for each group will advance to the 2014 Challenge Cup, where the Pinoy booters will be seeking to improve on their bronze medal finish in the 2012 edition.
“They said we can host one qualifier,” said PFF president Nonong Araneta who arrived here Friday and gave the Pinoy booters a pep talk before they gunned for a victory against Myanmar later at night and a seat to the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinals.
The PFF had vied for the hosting rights of the 2014 Challenge Cup final round, seeking to take advantage of the new ruling giving the host a free pass to the main draw. The Challenge Cup, in turn, will serve a qualifying event for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
“According to them (AFC officials), Maldives made a losing bid several times in the past so the sentiment was award it to them this time. I will write the AFC just to make some clarifications as to how the decision was arrived at,” Araneta said.
The Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, he said, is ready for the hosting, but some other venues like Panaad in Bacolod might be considered.
“Maybe Rizal will be better. It has a better field, and it’s in Manila. I think the other teams would just like to travel to Manila,” Araneta said of the Rizal venue, which has recently undergone minor repairs in preparation for the possible home game should the Azkals reach the semis of the ongoing Suzuki Cup.
Azkals manager Dan Palami, meanwhile, doesn’t mind the long route they have to take in the Challenge Cup.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get the hosting for the final round of the Challenge Cup but it doesn’t matter. If we have to go through the qualifiers, then we’ll prepare to go through that. In fact, it’s also good that we’ll have to go through it because then, we’ll have more games in our schedule,” Palami said.
The Challenge Cup, a tourney for “emerging Asian nations,” provided the venue for one of the Azkals’ successes. Last March, the Azkals landed a podium finish, one of the rare times a Phl football team achieved such a feat.
BANGKOK, Thailand – The Philippine national men’s football team may have already qualified for the semifinals of the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup, but coach Hans Michael Weiss still faces a major problem: the availability of the Azkals’ foreign-based players for the final four.
Of the 22 players who are included in the final lineup of the Azkals in the tournament, Rob Gier, Dennis Cagara, Angel Guirado, Jerry Lucena, Chris Greatwich, Paul Mulders, Ray Jonsson, and Roland Mueller, who has not joined the team in the tournament, play abroad. Weiss said that some of them were cleared by their clubs just for the Azkals’ three matches in the group stages.
“We have all the things in plan. We were first planning for the first three matches,” Weiss said. “We now have to start again to negotiate with the clubs.
“There’s a possibility that all of them will not be available.”
Despite being hailed as the biggest football competition in Southeast Asia, the Suzuki Cup does not fall on international match dates set by world governing body FIFA, which means that clubs are not obliged to release their players for the tournament.
Lucena, who Weiss considers as the Azkals’ most important player, had to leave the team last Wednesday to return to his club in Denmark and could make his return in the second leg of the semifinals slated on December 12.
Weiss said that he is already grateful that some players were cleared by their clubs for the tournament given that their respective seasons are still on going.
“We don’t wanna demand too much from the clubs. It wasn’t easy for them to come in the middle of the season and let them go,” he said.
Despite that, Weiss believes that even without the foreign-based talent, the remaining players in the lineup will step up to help the Azkals propel to success.
The Azkals will start their semifinals campaign on December 8 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Phil Younghusband had been uncharacteristically quiet for most of the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup.
In the Philippine national men’s football team’s final group match against Myanmar, the Azkals star striker finally broke his silence.
Younghusband scored his first goal of the tournament at the 46th minute, as the Azkals booked a 2-0 victory for a berth in the semifinals of the tournament for the second straight time.
Angel Guirado put the icing on the cake late in injury time with a breakaway goal for the final tally.
Younghusband, the team’s top scorer, was aggressive early in the match, testing the Myanmar goalkeeper with an early free kick and a long shot. But a feisty Myanmar side kept the match scoreless at halftime, speeding up the match to kept the taller Azkals on their toes.
The Philippines, however, delivered the telling blow right after the break, after excellent effort by midfielder Jason de Jong gave Younghusband the daylight for a shot that found the back of the net.
Myanmar did not go quietly, threatening to tie the game, but its poor finishing coupled with steady goalkeeping by Eduard Sacapaño kept the Azkals sheets clean.
The victory gave the Philippines a total of six points, in second place in Group A behind opening match tormentor Thailand, which finished with nine points. The Azkals will face the first-place finisher in Group B, which still depends on the final pair of matches on Saturday.
Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are all still in the running to finish in the top two of that group.
The first leg of the home-and-away semifinals is set on December 8 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, which would be the first Suzuki Cup final four match that will be played on Philippine soil. In 2010, the Azkals were forced to play their home leg in Indonesia because of a lack of suitable venues in the Philippines.
The second leg is slated on December 12.
BANGKOK—A familiar foe is standing in the way of the Philippines and a semifinal berth in the AFF Suzuki Cup here Friday.
A dangerous Myanmar (Burma) side—a team that battled the Philippines to tough matches in the past—presents the lone stumbling block for the Azkals in their bid to bring the prestigious tournament to home soil for the first time in history.
Their fate now in their hands after pulling off their first win Tuesday night, the Azkals face the Burmese side in their final group A match at 8:20 p.m. (9:20 p.m. in Manila) at Supachalasai Stadium in downtown Bangkok.
The scenario can become complicated if the Azkals don’t grab the three points against a Myanmar squad, which they have played to a draw three successive times since 2007 when the tournament was also played in the Thai capital.
While a win could seal outright qualification, the Azkals can also advance with a draw provided Thailand beats Vietnam at Rajamangala Stadium in a game scheduled simultaneously with the PH-Myanmar clash.
The Azkals can also advance if they draw with Myanmar and Vietnam only beats Thailand, 1-0, because of the tournament’s tiebreak rule, which is decided by goal difference, goals scored and head-to-head meeting, respectively. The Azkals will advance because they beat Vietnam, 1-0, last Tuesday.
A loss will eliminate the Azkals, who are hoping to play a semifinal game in Manila—a scenario they missed out on in 2010.
“We can’t let this chance slip away,” said defender Rob Gier before the team left the hotel for its training session at the national stadium. “We have to play like we played against Vietnam or even better.”
“The victory over Vietnam puts us in a good position,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss, who will return to the bench after serving his suspension in the win over Vietnamese. “We should put ourselves in a winning mood so that everything is safe and we don’t have to depend on the result of the other teams.”
The Azkals will be without two players who played key roles in their first two games here—Jerry Lucena, who has returned to his club in Denmark, and Ray Jonsson, who has been sidelined by a right calf strain.
Fully recovered after missing the friendly match against Singapore early this month, Carli de Murga is expected to replace Jonsson. Weiss has yet to reveal who will replace Lucena at midfield.
His options include Chris Greatwich, Jason de Jong and Marwin Angeles.
BANGKOK—There’s been little time for Rob Gier to relax the past few weeks.
On the pitch, he’s busy shadowing the finest strikers in Southeast Asia and anchors, and organizes what has been a resolute Philippines backline in the AFF Suzuki Cup here.
In days between games, he spends most of his time in his room, watching videos of the next opponent’s matches on his laptop and creates a dossier of information about the opposing team which he distributes to members of the squad on matchday.
Gier has been performing the dual role since last year when the Azkals reached the second round of World Cup Qualifying.
He relishes the roles and is driven by that fleeting moment of glory.
Winning against the Vietnamese Tuesday felt even more special for Gier as he wore the captain’s armband for the first time.
It made all the hard work, the time away from his wife, Emma, and their year-old daughter Lily, who are both in England, worth it.
“That was one of the highlights of my career, especially with my parents in the crowd,” said the 31-year-old Gier, who once played in the second tier of English football.
Gier’s leadership at the backline has proven crucial for the Azkals.
“Losing the first game kind of focuses your mind,” said Gier, who has 38 appearances with the national side. “You know that if you don’t perform, you could go home. None of us wanted to go home. It was as simple as that.”
Gier said he’s fortunate to be on a side that pulls for each other.
“Many things drive us,” Gier said. “In the huddle before the game, I told the guys, this competition brought me the best experiences of my career. I want to enjoy more of that and I want to enjoy that with these guys. We’re all friends … we all put our bodies on the line for each other. We bleed and sweat for each other.”
BANGKOK, Thailand – Over the years, the Myanmar national football team has daunted the Philippines every time they faced each other in regional competition.
But this time around, Myanmar assistant coach Tin Myint Aung knows it will now be different when they face the Azkals on Friday in the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup here.
“Our team used to beat the Philippines for so many times,” he said. “But for the last two years, they have a lot of improvement.”
The Filipinos have not beaten the Burmese side ever, only coming up with draws in their last three matches. The Burmese also hammered the Azkals’ Under-23 side, with Weiss at the helm, in a 5-0 triumph in the Southeast Asian Games last year.
However, the situation is not the same in this year’s Suzuki Cup, with the Burmese trailing the Azkals in the group standings with only a point to show. Now in the brink of elimination, Tin knows Myanmar will face a tall order when they battle the Azkals.
“It will be very difficult to play the Philippine team,” he said.
Myanmar star striker Kyi Lin, however, is confident that they can topple the Azkals and still sneak to the next round.
“We believe that we can win and we can fight in the last match to qualify for the semifinals,” he said.
BANGKOK, Thailand — Philippine national men’s football coach Hans Michael Weiss remains confident despite the absence of two starters for the Azkals’ last match in the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup against Myanmar on Friday here.
Aside from the departure of midfielder Jerry Lucena, who flew back to Denmark last Wednesday to return to his club, defender Ray Jonsson will also miss the Myanmar match after sustaining an injury to his right quadriceps.
Despite their absence, Weiss said the remaining players in the lineup can fill the void left by Jonsson and Lucena.
“We have a good pool of players. Our advantage is that everybody knows the system and has the maturity to understand the system,” he said.
“The core of the back four is very experienced to lead the younger players. That puts me in the position that whoever we choose can fill the gaps Jerry left behind.”
Weiss also revealed that defender Carli De Murga, who has not played in the tournament, will take place of Jonsson in the starting backline.
“Carli is actually a starter for most of the period since I’m here,” he said. “He will be more than excited for this game.”
A victory against Myanmar on Friday will assure the Azkals a semifinals spot in the Suzuki Cup, where they look to surpass their Cinderella run in the tournament two years ago.
Kuala Lumpur: The AFC Competitions Committee on Wednesday decided to give the hosting rights of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup to Maldives.
The committee, under the chairmanship of AFC Vice-President the UAE’s Yousuf Al Serkal, ratified the decision of the Organising Committee for AFC President’s Cup & AFC Challenge Cup to appoint Maldives as a host of the next edition of this eight-team Finals.
The proposals from the AFC Asian Cup Task Force were presented and approved for the 2019 edition onwards. The members agreed to maintain 16-team Finals for 2019 and the winners of the AFC Challenge Cup 2016 and 2018 will no more get direct slots in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup but will have to play the play-offs with the two best remaining teams from the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers who failed to qualify for the Finals.
The committee also approved DPR Korea’s exclusion from future AFC Challenge Cups and maintain automatic qualification for top three teams from the 2015 edition in the next edition.
Philippine national men’s football team midfielder Jerry Lucena will miss the Azkals’ last match in the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup here against Myanmar after leaving Wednesday morning to return to his club in Denmark.
Lucena, who plays for Danish Superliga side Esbjerg FB, played in their 2-1 loss to Thailand last Saturday and 1-0 victory to Vietnam last Tuesday.
The Filipino-Danish midfielder could still make return for the Azkals should they advance to the semifinals, as his club’s season will finish just in time for the Suzuki Cup semifinals slated from December 8 to December 13.
Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss considers Lucena the ‘most important player’ on the team.
“With all the respect to other players who play in his position, Lucena is our most important player,” Weiss said. “But this position is always our Achilles problem.
“If Lucena is not there, we will manage. But if he’s there already, that’s the luck that we need.”
A win against Myanmar on Friday will assure the Azkals of a return ticket to the semifinals of the tournament.
Fil-Spanish Javier Patino played when Cordoba drew 2-2 against Real Sociedad in Spanish Cup today. He played 81 mins before he was substituted. They will play Barcelona in round of 16 ! (Unless Barcelona loses with more than 3 goals to Alaves in their second leg played this Wednesday) First leg of round of 16 is played on 12. December Patino is considering getting a Philippines passport and play for Azkals .
For the Vietnamese national football team, there was a sense of deja vu after falling to the Philippines anew, 1-0, in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
The result echoes the 2-0 victory the Azkals earned in the same tournament two years ago, a win that catapulted the sport to new heights in the Philippines.
Just like the joy for the Filipinos, the pain is all too familiar for the Vietnamese.
“Our team today played the worst match since I became head coach,” Vietnam coach Thanh Hung told reporters after the match.
“Before the game the whole team had good preparation in the aspect of mentality but when the match started so many players frooze and made wrong passes. And the goal it came from a wrong pass from one player.”
But the coach was quick to praise the Philippine defense, which turned back attack after attack from the Vietnamese side.
“They had a mass defense and it was difficult to break it down. We could not create any good chances or do anything that could turn the game,” Hung said.
Vietnam’s Le Tan Tai did have a clear shot at goal at the 88th minute, but Azkals keeper Eduard Sacapaño got a finger on the ball, which hit the crossbar before being cleared.
Now, Vietnam faces elimination in the group stages after being held to a 1-all draw in its first match against Myanmar. Its last assignment, host Thailand, figures to be a tough one, putting the 2008 champions in jeopardy of missing the semifinals after making the final four in 2010.
Hung took all the blame for the painful defeat.
“The players followed the tactics. As head coach I take responsibility for losing the game.”
As he watched the Philippine national men’s football team’s 1-0 victory over Vietnam from the standed, coach Hans Michael Weiss lauded the Azkals’ performance rebounding from a 2-1 opening defeat to Thailand in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
Weiss, who was suspended for throwing the ball at a fallen Thai player in the Azkals opener, picked midfielder Patrick Reichelt as the best player in their triumph.
“For me, he is the man of the match. I’m very proud of the boy,” Weiss said of Reichelt, who lost some of his teeth last Monday during a collision in practicy.
He went to the hospital for treatment the morning of the match.
Weiss also praised late substitutes Angel Guirado, Denis Wolf, and team captain Chieffy Caligdong, who scored the Azkals’ lone goal at the 85th minute.
“You can say that they changed the match,” he said. “The only thing that I was hoping was that the defense and offense will get better. We have to make changes quickly, and changed three players in quick time.”
Azkals defenders led by Rob Gier and Juani Guirado withstood the series of Vietnam attacks throughout the match, drawing praise Weiss.
“That won’t be possible without a fantastic defensive line, back four,” he said. “Big complement on the team. Fantastic performance.
“No fear. These are the people you need.”
With a semifinal stint within reach, Weiss hopes the Azkals can carry their momentum to their final match against Myanmar.
“We are back in the race and we are now playing against a strong Myanmar side. Hopefully, we succeed to the semifinals,” Weiss said.
Philippines are still very much alive in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup after picking up their first points of the tournament on Tuesday with a 1-0 win over Vietnam.
By Gabriel Tan at the Rajamangala Stadium
For much of the game, it looked as though the Azkals' route to the semi-finals was going to be made tougher as they struggled to break down a lethargic Vietnam outfit.
However, all that changed in the 85th minute when captain Emelio Caligdong came off the bench and coolly slotted past Duong Hong Son to hand his side all three points.
Having promised to make changes following his side's opening 2-1 defeat to Thailand by introducing Jason de Jong and Patrick Reichelt for Caligdong and Angel Guirado.
Nonetheless, it was Vietnam who created the first scoring opportunity three minutes in when Le Cong Vinh cleverly flicked the ball into the path of the rampaging Le Tan Tai, but he had to deal with the close attentions of Juan Luis Guirado and could only fire a half-volley straight at Eduard Sacapano.
Nine minutes later, Phil Younghusband wasted an excellent opportunity to break the deadlock when he was picked out unmarked inside the area by a right-wing cross from James Younghusband, only to scuff his shot wide with only Duong Hong Son to beat.
Two minutes before the half-hour mark, the Loyola Meralco Sparks striker was presented with another opening when Patrick Reichelt nodded a Paul Mulders delivery into his path, but Nguyen Gia Tu weighed in with a vital intervention to block his fierce snapshot.
By now, Philippines were starting to grab a stranglehold on the game and they had another chance in the 38th minute when Mulders forced his way down the right after good hold-up play by Phil Younghusband on the halfway line, and hit a cross-cum-shot that Hong Son had to tip over before it could sneak inside the top corner.
Five minutes after the break, Phil Younghusband threatened the opposition goal once more when he struck a first-time shot just wide after a being picked out by James Younghusband's flick-on header, before Vietnam mustered a rare effort on target nine minutes later when Tan Tai hit a piledriver from the edge of the area that was well saved by Sacapano.
12 minutes from time, Angel Guirado had a half chance to find the breakthrough when he beat his marker to an enticing delivery from Caligdong but failed to get enough power on his header to test Hong Son.
An even better chance then went begging three minutes later when Angel Guirado went on a powerful rampage down the right past two defenders and sent a low effort towards goal, only to be denied by Tran Dinh Dong who had recovered in time to make a brilliant sliding block.
Still, there was to be no denying Philippines in the 85th minute when Angel Guirado found space just outside the area and floated a lovely ball into the path of Caligdong, who calmly brought the ball down before lifting it over the onrushing Vietnam goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
There was still time for Vietnam to rescue a point two minutes later when Tan Tai forced his way down the left and into the box and unleashed a ferocious strike that had Sacapano beaten all ends up, only to see it smash into the bar and onto the goal-line before bouncing back out to safety once more.
As the final whistle blew, the joy on the Azkals' faces was clear for all to see as they kept alive their hopes of progressing to the semi-finals, while Vietnam's were left in tatters.
Vietnam: Duong Hong Son, Tran Dinh Dong, Nguyen Minh Duc (Truong Dinh Luat 82'), Nguyen Gia Tu, Nguyen Van Bien, Phan Thanh Hung, Le Tan Tai, Nguyen Trong Hoang, Pham Thanh Luong (Nguyen Van Quyet 73'), Huynh Quoc Anh, Le Cong Vinh (Nguyen Quang Hai 70').
Philippines: Eduard Sacapano, Ray Jonsson, Rob Gier, Juan Luis Guirado, Dennis Cagara, James Younghusband (Emelio Caligdong 74'), Jason de Jong, Jerry Lucena, Patrick Reichelt, Paul Mulders (Angel Guirado 55'), Phil Younghusband (Denis Wolf 66').
BANGKOK, Thailand – Philippine national men’s football team coach Hans Michael Weiss is optimistic that he will get a contract extension regardless of the result of the Azkals’ campaign in the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup here.
The contract of Weiss, who was hired shortly after the Azkals’ memorable semifinal run in the Suzuki Cup two years ago, is set to expire shortly after the tournament. But he believes that the Philippine Football Federation and the management will still tap him to steer the team in the future.
“The signals from the PFF and the team manager are clear that we will continue,” Weiss said. “If not, that is the life of a coach. We have to be prepared for that.”
Weiss also thinks that some Filipino fans don’t recognize his efforts in improving the Azkals since his tenure as a coach.
“Many people in the country, in my opinion, dream a little too much about going to the semifinals and the finals and sometimes forget the hard work behind it,” he said. “What I know is that I get very positive remarks from outside the Philippines.”
“Inside the country, it is different.”
During his tenure, the Azkals achieved their highest world ranking at 143rd after playing several international friendlies and competitions this year, including their third place finish in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup last March and the Philippine Football Peace Cup last September where they emerged as champion.
Despite that, Weiss still believes that making the Azkals one of the strong teams in the region is a gradual process which cannot happen overnight.
"It takes time, it’s very clear,” he said. “We are looking for the overall development, not only the short term win.”
Expect a do-or-die showdown between the Philippine Azkals and the Vietnam Red Warriors tonight in Group A hostilities of the ASEAN Football Federation-Suzuki Cup 2012 at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.
Coach Hans Michael Weiss, who will watch the game from afar due to a one-game suspension, said this yesterday in a pre-game conference.
Weiss believes that a draw with the Red Warriors won’t mean anything for the Azkals, who absorbed a 1-2 loss to the Thailand War Elephants last Saturday in their opening game.
A victory over the Red Warriors, who are ranked way higher in FIFA rankings than the Azkals at 138, will keep the Filipinos in contention for a semifinal slot.
The Red Warriors played Myanmar to a 1-all draw also last Saturday. They will face the Azkals at 5:30 p.m. today (6:30 p.m. Manila time).
“A draw is not good enough. The loser will go home. There are some people back in the Philippines who are already talking about the semifinals and the finals. They are missing the bigger picture. There are football developments in our country. But when you compare us to Thailand, we are still so far away. So we have to look at the bigger picture,” said Weiss.
This time around, Weiss said he will give young booter Marwin Angeles a chance to prove himself.
“We need players like Marwin (Angeles) who are warriors and who are 100% ready for battle. In the match against Thailand, two or three players underperformed and that is bad for a team,” added Weiss, who was suspended when he threw the ball to the field and hit scorer Anucha Kitpongsri, who was down on the ground following a collision with an Azkals player during the last portion of their game with Thailand.
On the other hand, 26-year-old Le Cong Vinh will be the player to watch from the Vietnamese side. He has a strike record of 31 goals in 54 games and he will be the focal point of the Vietnamese attack.
Another striker Denis) Wolf, who was nursing an injury the last time around, will be around to help Phil Younghusband at the front.
Vietnam, according to Weiss, has five offensive players “who are fluid in their movement.”
“So we have to have quick movement and pressure early and not allow them to play,” added Weiss.
EARLY favorite Romgarjal Football Club (FC) emerged champion at the close of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF)-Smart National Club Mindanao Finals held at the Tionko field over the weekend.
Romgarjal FC of Zamboanga del Norte held the Southern Mindanao Hooligans FC of Davao City to a 1-1 draw on Sunday following a 5-1 victory over M'lang FC of North Cotabato-Central Mindanao on Saturday.
Romgarjal, which won via default over no-show Advocates FC of Lanao del Norte Football Association in the opener, garnered a total of seven points to grab the top spot of the team standing while M'lang FC made six points to place second.
Both teams will advance to the Round of 16 where top two teams of Luzon and the Visayas and the top 10 squads of the United Football League (UFL) are also entered.
The Hooligans, which posted one win, one draw and one loss, finished third with four points.
Romgarjal was led by Sergio Alexis Pellerin, Renando Mantua Jr., John Lloyd Bastasa and Ryan Buenaflor while Steven Anotado, Greg Robert Lavega and Jeffrey Cabalinga took charge for M'lang.
Davao's Columbia FC was last year's Mindanao champion. (MLSA)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 27, 2012. Goals :Sergio Alexis
Pellerin (90’+2’) Romgarjal Fc
BANGKOK (26 Nov 2012) – Append below are the quotes from the pre-match Press Conference for the match between Vietnam and Philippines tomorrow.
Ngo Le Bang – Vietnam team manager
We saw the matches from Group B last night, and it showed that there is no final conclusion that any one team is strong. The gap is getting closer between teams and they are all equal in this tournament.
Philippines are very strong and they have tall players, who are always active with good technique. It will not be an easy game even though the Philippines have lost their first match to Thailand.
Personally, I don’t think that the Philippines should have lost that game. The pressure was on Thailand as they were the hosts and I thought that a draw would have been a fair result.
In 2010, we did not have such a good moment when we lost to the Philippines (2-0 at home at the My Dinh National Stadium).But we will overcome, we have ten players from 2010 and I am sure they will be eager to change things around.
We have some players who are injured but they are recovering and I think that we have to be at our best against a Philippines side which is physically stronger and good in the air.
It is important for us to win the game to make sure that we have a chance to progress further in the competition.”
Michael Weiss – Philippines chief coach
“It is do or die. A draw is not good enough. The loser will go home.
There are some people back in the Philippines who are already talking about the semi-finals and the finals. They are missing the bigger picture.
There are football developments in our country but when you compare to Thailand, we are still so far away. So we have to look at the bigger picture.
We need players like Marwin (Angeles) who are warriors and who are 100% ready for battle. In the match against Thailand, two or three players underperformed and that is bad for a team.
We did not perform in our first game against Thailand, and so we lost. There was a chance to draw the game but we just could not get to it. I think that we have to look at the long term and not just short term.
The good news is that (Denis) Wolf is back and with everybody fit we are ready for this match.
As for Vietnam, they have five offensive players who are fluid in their movement. So we have to have quick movement, and pressure early and not allow them to play.”
CERES - Bacolod took advantage of a defensive miscue in the 72nd minute to beat Cebu Queen City United, 1-0, in the PFF Smart Club national championships Visayas qualifiers in San Carlos City yesterday.
Miguel Gonzales’s clearance in the 72nd minute had a bad bounce, allowing a Bacolod player to beat keeper Charles Villarta in a one-on-one.
“This is a very good Cebu team, we had more chances, and possessions in the second half only to surrender a goal on a defensive miscue,” said CQCU Manager Stanley Villacin.
Although both teams are already assured of the two seats in the round of 16, both played to win as it revived a classic rivalry between these Visayan teams.
Bacolod got the top spot with six points, while Cebu is second with three. Leyte, which lost both games, is eliminated.
The game was evenly matched in the first half even if the Ceres team had six Korean players who were formerly from Central Philippine University in Iloilo and played for Stallions FC.
Ian Araneta has been a fixture in the Philippine national men’s football team since 2000. He has been part of the Azkals for three Suzuki Cup tournaments, and was one of the team’s top weapons when the team shot to fame in the 2010 edition of the competition.
But with a deeper lineup, the Air Force striker was left off the final 22-man roster, a snub that, he admits, had him thinking about quitting from the national team altogether.
“Balak ko na sana next year na mag-schooling sa Air Force para sa rangko ko,” said Araneta, who currently is currently a sergeant. “Pero yung career ko, ‘di lang naman as a football player eh. As a soldier din. So kelangan ko rin na pagtuunan ng pansin yun as a military man.”
But the lure of playing for flag and country was too much for Araneta, who couldn’t fathom the thought of just watching from the sidelines.
“Kung nasa field ka, gaano kasarap yung naglalaro ka na kasama yung mga teammate mo,” Araneta said. “Pumapasok sa isip ko, ‘Kaya ko pa, parang meron pa.’”
Araneta said that he wants to have another tour of duty for the Azkals in this same tournament in the future.
“Gusto ko sanang balikan itong Suzuki kung saan kami nagsimula,” Araneta said while scouting the Myanmar-Vietnam match last Saturday.
“Hindi ko muna iniisip yung retirement.”
Araneta isn’t unaware when it comes to fans’ criticism of his play of late, saying he understands where they are coming from.
“Matagal din akong nabakante. Medyo bumaba yung laro mo, so yun yung binabalik ko,” said Araneta, who was forced to cut his trip short with the team to be with his wife, who will give birth anytime soon. “Ni-re-respeto ko naman sila, pero ‘di mo yan maiintindihan pag ‘di ka player.”
At 30, Araneta admitted that he is now approaching the twilight of his career. But he wants to leave a lasting impression to many before retiring from the Azkals.
“‘Di pa naman huli ang lahat. Pag-ta-trabahuhan ko yan,” he said.
BANGKOK, Thailand — After its ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup opening match against Thailand, members of the Philippine national men’s football team were left bloodied on its way to a 2-1 loss.
And the hits keep coming for the Azkals, who lost coach Hans Michael Weiss to suspension for the Philippine side’s second match against Vietnam on Tuesday.
But Azkals star striker Phil Younghusband said the coach’s absence can be overcome by the team.
“With the players we have on the field, we can do a lot of coaching,” said Younghusband, who was a non-factor against Thailand after sustaining a nasty boxer’s cut over his left eye early in the match before being subbed out at halftime.
“But of course, I like our coach to be there to motivate us.”
Against Vietnam, the Azkals will face a familiar foe. During the team’s Cinderella run to the semifinals of the tournament in 2010, the Philippines upset a hometown Vietnamese side, 2-0, a victory credited with sparking football fever in the basketball-crazy country.
Vietnam has a new coach in Phan Thanh Hung, and the 2008 Suzuki Cup champions are hoping for a different result against the Philippines this time around.
In its first assignment, Vietnam was held to a 1-1 draw by Myanmar, making the showdown against the Azkals more crucial.
BANGKOK, Thailand — Already up against formidable opposition, the Philippine national men’s football team will have another handicap in its second match in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup as coach Hans Michael Weiss will serve a one-match suspension.
“It’s not ideal but we’re used to take difficult situations in a positive way,” Weiss told journalists at the team’s hotel lobby here.
With 81 minutes into the match, Weiss was sent off after throwing the ball at Thailand’s Anucha Kitpongsri, who was down on the pitch. Weiss has criticized the officiating during the match, but denied that he threw the ball intentionally.
Weiss said that he will still prepare the team for the crucial match against Vietnam.
“It’s okay. The coaching staff, they know how we want to play. We will stay in contact,” Weiss said. “It’s actually sometimes good to observe from the fans’ perspective to see some things.”
Weiss added that the team is appealing the ruling, but he is not optimistic about it.
“Normally, it’s very difficult to reverse the decision of the referee,” he said. “I think it’s not realistic.”
The Azkals is in a must-win situation as they are currently on the bottom of Group A with no points. Vietnam, meanwhile, has a point to show after a 1-1 draw against Myanmar. Thailand currently tops the group with three points.
The top two teams of the group will advance to the knockout stages of the Suzuki Cup, where they look to surpass their historic semifinal run in the same tournament two years ago.
AFTER advancing to the Round of 16, the Cebu Football Association-Cebu Queen City United (CFA-CQCU) has one goal left and that is to top the Visayas eliminations of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF)-Smart Club Championships by winning its final match against Ceres FC today in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.
Ceres FC is leading CFA-CQCU on a 10-point goal difference after demolishing Baybay Leyte FC, 10-0, yesterday morning. Both teams tote three points equivalent to one win.
Baybay Leyte FC tried to hold on and managed to end the first half with only a 0-3 deficit. However, exhaustion caught up with the team in the second half after coming from a 1-7 loss against CFA-CQCU on Friday afternoon.
The Baybay Leyte FC-Ceres FC match was scheduled in the afternoon to give Baybay Leyte FC ample time to rest and recover. However, it asked to play its final match in the morning so they could go home yesterday afternoon.
A 1-0 score against Ceres FC would allow CFA-CQCU to achieve its goal, however, this is easier said than done.
Not only is Ceres FC beefed up with six Korean players, it also has former members of the U23 Philippine Azkals. /CORRESPONDENT MARS G. ALISON
A bloodied Philippine Azkals side yielded a close 2-1 loss to host Thailand in the opening of the Group A matches in the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup at the cavernous Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand.
Physically battered at the start, the Azkals battled the War Elephants toe to toe in the first 37 minutes only to surrender a goal in the next minute that started their fall.
Showing precision in their short passing game, a three-touch combination by the Thais led to a beautiful goal by Jakkapan Pornsai right at the goal’s mouth as Phl keeper Ed Sacapano was caught by surprise.
Stunned by the goal, the Azkals let up again on defense as the War Elephants doubled their lead in the span of only two minutes.
Anucha Kitpongsri outraced the Azkals’ back four in a counter-attack and baited Sacapano to move out then calmly went to his left to avoid the Phl keeper before slotting in the goal that put more pressure on the visitors.
With so much talk on the Azkals’ rise since gate-crashing the Suzuki Cup semis two years ago, the Thais showed the visitors that they are in for a dogfight this time around.
Phl’s star striker Phil Younghusband got a nasty cut above his left eye inside the first 10 minutes of the match before midfielder Jerry Lucena got hurt at the back of his head in a mid-air collision. The physicality of the match left the Azkals in total disarray in the first half.
The momentum, however, shifted to the never-say-die Azkals in the second half as they pulled one back despite Phil and James Younghusband taken out.
Singapore match hero Marwin Angeles came in for Phil at the start while Patrick Reichelt substituted James in the 60th minute that proved to be a stroke of genius.
Five minutes later, Thailand's star Teerasil Dangda left defender Juani Guirado with a bloodied mouth with his wayward elbow that, curiously, only drew a yellow card from the Japanese referee. That incident only fed the Azkals' desire to get back at them with a morale-boosting goal.
Reichelt made his presence felt. Fresh off the bench, substitute's pace posed problems for the Thais and his swift cross found an unmarked Paul Mulders, who scored his first international goal in the 76th minute.
Suddenly, the Azkals were energized and became the aggressor constantly attacking and challenging the War Elephants’ defense.
But just as Phl is making progress in the match, the unthinkable happened. The Azkals’ German coach Hans Michael Weiss was sent off for tossing the ball to a fallen Thai player on the ground.
Phl booters tried to rally behind their coach but failed to capitalize on one chance after another as the War Elephants parked the bus. Thailand continued its mastery of the Philippines on the pitch extending their head-to-head record to 16-1, their lone loss to the Filipino booters coming in more than four decades ago – a 3-1 defeat in the 1971 Merdeka Games.
Despite the loss, Weiss took it as a good result for the Azkals, whose last goal against the War Elephants prior to this match was way back in 2004 Tiger Cup.
“Our couple of changes in the second half paid off,” said Weiss during the post-match interview.
Facing a possible suspension with his ejection, Weiss remained upbeat on the Azkals’ chances against Vietnam, whom they defeated 2-0 two years ago that paved the way for "Azkal-mania".
“It’s not the best situation. We’ll try to make the best out of it,” Weiss added.
The Azkals are now facing a must-win situation in their next two matches starting off against Vietnam on Tuesday before wrapping up the group stages on Friday versus Myanmar to repeat their semifinals appearance in 2010.
Thailand took the provisional lead in the group with three points while Vietnam and Myanmar are tied with one point each after their 1-1 draw in the curtain-raiser. The top two teams in the group will advance to the crossover, home-and-away semifinals.