Philippine Azkals vs. Kuwait. And their dream to make it to the FIFA WORLD CUP 2014

29 Jul

Today, the 2nd leg of the match between our very own Philippine Azkals and Kuwait ended. With a 5-1 score, Kuwaitis advances to the 3rd round of the FIFA World Cup 2014 Asian Qualifiers. Yup, unfortunately we didn’t make it to the next round.

   VS.  

First Leg – The Away Game:

During the 1 st leg which was held in Kuwait, Azkals lost to 3 goals made by the opponents. Although like what I said that time, in fairness Kuwait did a good performance especially in their offence. Though, the first two goals I think was merely due to luck but the 3rd goal was just beautiful.  There was even a talk about contesting the 2nd goal they made as it wasn’t clear how it got passed Neil  – Philippines’ goalie and the two other players guarding the goal, when the Kuwaiti player was right there on the ground. They were thinking it was a handball. As for the Azkals, their defense was good however  it is still lacking in the midfield area, giving way for the opponent to penetrate deeper. When it comes to their offence, there were a lot of chances but wasn’t able to convert it to goals. Most of the time it was Phil who was trying to score but it’s either he is denied by the players or the goalie or he lacked in support from the other Azkals.

The Azkals also were moving quite slow in the pitch. Must be the weather. I heard it was very hot that time they played – around 40 something I think. They were already very tired during the 2nd half. What I just didn’t quite understand was why the substitution was made only in the additional 4 minutes of the 2 nd half? What was their strategy? Angel Guirado was also injured a lot of times due to the physical attack of the Kuwaitis. He was obviously tired but no substitution was made.  I understand that they were reserving some players for the 2nd leg but still I didn’t quite get it.

Phil Younghusband (c/oPhilStar)

Second Leg – The Home Game:

It started fast and moving. There were a lot of energies from both teams. There was a rush. I could feel it. The game was very intense I could hardly breathe! Hahaha… The Azkals stepped up in this match. They were in high spirits, very very aggressive in their offence. I think during the first 30 minutes, the ball’s possession was mostly with them but Kuwaitis were making it hard for us to score. Then just when the first half was about to end, Stefan Schrock scored a goal for the Philippines causing a loud roar not only in Rizal Stadium but also at home! Hahaha… Yes, that’s from me and my dad. And it was a beautiful goal by Stefan!  During the 2nd half however, the Kuwaitis had their revenge when they scored twice, burying us in a deep hole with that 2 away goals. Ouch! But despite of that, the Azkals fought until the end and tried their best to defend and attack. Like in the first leg, Phil also created chances, a lot of them as well as Guirado and Gier.

Stefan Schrock after his goal

I must say, the Kuwaitis are skilled and very very organized team. I am impressed with what they shown in the match – how they tackled and attacked, it was awesome. They were so energized, playing as if the game has just started. Where are they getting that energy from? I’m impressed with their stamina.

Well compared to Philippines, they are very experienced in Football. Their world ranking is in 102 I think while we are in what, 159 or something? They played in the WORLD CUP already, I think around 1980s and they’ve been playing the beautiful game way way back. Although, tracing the history of AFC, Philippines was one of the founding members of it. And mind you, it was founded in Manila. Look at the irony of that! But that’s another topic.

Overall I think the Azkals did a good performance especially in the Home Game and I’m just proud of them.  They played it so beautiful, very intense, full of action that I can hardly breathe! Well, but the Kuwaitis just played with class despite them losing one player due to a 2nd yellow card. The skills are impressive, especially that guy in #7 shirt, he was attacking! They earned my respect in Football. Plus, I think they were one of the nicest team the Azkals have played so far. It is a physical game, so it’s natural that you bump into each other resulting to unwanted injuries and cramps, (though sometimes others deliberately do that! How bad!) and of course, yellow and red cards. They were moments when their patience were tested and they just burst into anger but that’s part of it. But the camera also captured moments of their players helping out our players who were hurt, that is both in first and second legs. They are professionals indeed.

Well, congratulations to Kuwait for advancing to the 3rd round of the qualifiers. Hopefully you’ll make it to the World Cup in Brazil!

Kuwait National Football Team

For the Azkals, it is alright. The game was well-fought. You did well. I’m sure we’ve learned a lot from this match and we’ll use it to improve our performance. We can try again next time, who knows maybe in 2018 in Qatar (if I remember it right). 🙂

Well, despite that we lost, I can still proudly say, Go Azkals! We believe!

Team Azkals - The Philippine National Football Team

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