12 December 2014

Azkals see improvement, need for change

By Cedelf P. Tupas

THE THIRD straight semifinal exit of the Philippine Azkals in the AFF Suzuki Cup should not take away the inroads made by the squad this year.
Although they bowed to Thailand, 0-3, on aggregate in the semifinals last Wednesday in Bangkok, skipper Rob Gier and striker Phil Younghusband believe the Azkals are an improved side than in previous years.
The Azkals reached the finals of the AFC Challenge Cup this year in the Maldives, losing to Palestine in the title match. The Suzuki Cup proved to be a shot at redemption and while they impressed with wins over Laos and Indonesia in the group stages, the Azkals were once again a letdown when it came to big games.
“I think (the improvement) has been big but there’s obviously something still standing in the way of the team and we can’t get over that final hurdle,” said the 33-year-old Gier, who hinted that the 2014 edition could be his last Suzuki Cup.
There’s plenty of promise in the Azkals side as youngsters like Daisuke Sato and Amani Aguinaldo continued to develop, playing their second major tournament this year.
Except for games against Thailand and Vietnam, where he struggled, the 22-year-old Manny Ott stamped his authority at midfield, giving the Azkals a reliable option at the position for years to come.
Younghusband said the improvement of the side was apparent in the tournament, where the Azkals scored a total of nine goals. They were however shut out for the third straight semifinal, extending their drought to six matches since 2010.
“I think we discovered we can pass the ball and we can create chances to score passing the ball,” said Younghusband. “But there’s still a barrier that we have to get over. We’ve fallen short again and it’s something that we have to change.”
Younghusband said the standing in the competition is reflective of the infrastructure and the popularity of football in the countries in Southeast Asia.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” said Younghusband, lamenting the fact that the Azkals still struggle to fill up the 13,000-seater Rizal Memorial Stadium, while the Thais can easily lure a crowd of 50,000 for the semifinals.
Thailand proved too sharp for the Azkals in the second leg of their semifinal tie Wednesday night at Raja-mangala Stadium. The Thais will meet Malaysia in the finals, after the Tigers staged a stunning fightback in Hanoi to oust Vietnam, 5-4, on aggregate.
Gier said the loss to the Thais still stings.
“It never gets easier,” said Gier. “You put a lot of sacrifices—being away from my family the past six weeks. That’s what makes it even more difficult when you continually come up short.”
Gier added: “It was really hard work out there and I can’t blame anyone after this (defeat).”
“It’s a tough loss that we have to get out of the system,” said Denmark-based midfielder Jerry Lucena, who vowed to reinforce the side again in World Cup Qualifying next year.
“The squad has to be better if we expect to do well in the future,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami.

Read more: http://sports.inquirer.net/169828/azkals-see-improvement-need-for-change#ixzz3Lj8qJtRy


  1. cultivate football culture in the philippines, ufl teams and football bodies should act as one for the goodness of this sports,let the community grow. too much politics also is ruining the sports,develop a hero in football because its Pinoy Pride. focus in grassroots,let the fans enjoy the game let them participate,pff is also ambigous in their dealings tsk.tsk...

  2. Join the PFF and implement these, then we will judge you after many years.

  3. Anonymous13 December 2014 at 01:35 andyan ka pala sa PFF? Bakit hindi nyo magawa ang program ng Vietnam, Thailand o Malaysia? Bakit kailangan pa ibalik ang tanong sa mga fans na naghahanap ng improvement? Cguro wla kang alam sa football at hindi mo love ang sports na ito at napilitan ka lng dahil dyan ka nagtatrabaho.

    1. anong program ng vietnam dalawang suzuki cup natin cla tinalo pag natatalo pala tayo ng isang team gagayahin natin ang program nla paano naman ang program ng indonesia at laos dahil tinalo natin gagayahin ba nla ang program natin ganyan talaga ang football may upset tingnan nyo ang nangyari sa brazil vs germany gagayahin ba nla program ng germany

  4. pff is in the state of IMPASSE.no need to judge me,why you judge me? when you are there sitting in throne? hehehehe....politics as its best.

  5. sa tingin ko hindi taga-pff si 01:35, cguro ang ibig nya sabihin e marami sa ating mga fans ang magaling lang manuro sa pff, sa coach, at sa manager ng kamalian, pag may tagumpay naman tahimik ang mga kritiko.

    1. tama ka pag nanalo wlang komento pagnatatalo maraming sisi

  6. proactive ang kailangan,small things big effects.if other sports hyped their leagues,sure, football too.

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