Hopes were high for the Philippine Men’s National Football Team ever since it was announced that the Philippines will be one of the hosts of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Unfortunately for the Azkals and Filipino football fans, the country failed to advance to the semi-finals for the first time since that magical run in 2010 at Hanoi, Vietnam.
Although the Philippines was grouped with the likes of Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia, reaching the semi-finals was the bare minimum and that objective wasn’t fulfilled.
In the final matchday at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan, the Philippines needed to upset the odds and win against Thailand to ensure smooth passage to the next round. Alas, that failed to materialize as the Azkals lost 0-1 after 90 minutes.
“It’s a really, really disappointing situation for us. We wanted so much to go to the semi-finals to show how great we are,” lamented Azkals goalie Roland Muller.
“The luck was generally a bit missing up front. We didn’t score so it’s really hard to go to the next stage.”
Stephan Schrock echoed, “Five minutes after we lost it’s hard to find some positive things. We had some chances. We weren’t cold enough in front of the goal. All in all, we showed a good effort in the tournament with all the circumstances we had before, but it was not enough.”
Goals chance games and sadly for the Azkals, they didn’t score enough in the tournament to stamp their authority. After three games, the squad just scored twice with both goals arriving in the Indonesia game and conceded three goals. That is a statistic worthy of elimination.
“We are really disappointed at the moment but there’s always a tomorrow.
“There’s always some positive things you can take away from those lessons. We will analyze that and come back stronger hopefully,” reflected Schrock.
There are many questions now for Philippine football. The upcoming Philippines Football League is being created, but uncertainty has gripped that league. For Schrock, the Philippines just needs to look at Thailand to know what a good domestic league does for its national team.
“You can see the league is doing very good there and the outcome is the national team also doing very good,” explained Schrock.
“If the league in the Philippines won’t take the next step, the national team won’t take the next step,”
Nevertheless, there was a bright spot for the Azkals in its tournament full of darkness. Against Thailand, Azkals mentor Thomas Dooley elected to play Marco Casambre at center-back. Casambre is a 17 year old native of Quezon City who is now on the books of the Anto Gonzales-coached University of the Philippines.
Apart from a nervy start, Casambre held himself well in his first cap for the Philippines.
“I’m really, really happy for him. He made a good job. He’s 17 years old. He’s already outstanding for me. He’s calm on the ball. He made his job. Yeah, I’m happy for him,” shared Muller.
To bow out of the tournament this early is a disaster. However, there are many games left for the Azkals to play. Sometime in the summer, qualification for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup will resume.
This is a bitter pill to swallow, but even the world’s biggest sports teams had to trust the process as they say. For the Azkals, let’s just hope that the process will have a tangible prize this time.
Azkals’ early Suzuki Cup exit an opportunity to improve says Bahadoran
Unlike in the three previous editions of the AFF Suzuki Cup, the Philippines Azkals will not be in the semifinals
For Misagh Bahadoran, the Azkals should use the setback as a springboard to reach greater heights.
“Big disappointment that we couldn’t win this [game] and we didn’t qualify for Suzuki Cup,” the Global FC skipper said following the Azkals’ 0-1 loss to AFF Suzuki Cup defending champions Thailand.
Frustrated by the result of the match, Bahadoran couldn’t believe the team’s luck against a weakened but still formidable Thailand team. Nonetheless, he admitted they’ve had shortcomings on offense and attributed it to their elimination. After all, the hosts had seven shots on target compared to Thailand’s three on the night.
“This is football. We gave a 100 percent and they gave the same and they finished better than us.
“That’s how it is … We didn’t finish again and that’s one of the weaknesses that we have, to score goals and how to release the ball faster for each other to score goals,” the 29 year-old player elaborated.
Indeed, finishing chances has been a concern for the Azkals in the tournament. They ended up scoring two goals in 270 minutes of action. Only Singapore with a solitary goal recorded less in the competition.
Now that the competition is over for them, the Azkals have time to recover before going back to training camp soon. The next stint lined up for the Philippines is the third and final round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup which will begin late March of next year.
Bracing for what lies ahead, Bahadoran issued a challenge to everyone in the team.
“We should come back stronger. We need to play together as a team more. We have to finish. We have to score goals,” he urged as they seek to redeem themselves in the upcoming 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers.
For them to do that, Bahadoran went on to suggest giving players more time to build the team.
“We should be together more, longer. Especially now, most of the Filipino players are playing [for] local clubs so we have to be gathered together and train more together so we understand each other better,” the midfielder reckoned.
Philippines end Suzuki Cup run with Thailand loss
The dream of seeing the Philippines become South East Asian champions is extended as the Philippine Azkals are now out of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Thailand cemented itself as Group A winners as it won 0-1 against the Philippines tonight at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan. Sarawut Masuk scored the solitary goal of the evening at the 80th minute.
“It’s always bad, disappointing. I just have to say that the players played with heart and they played what they could as long as their legs were moving. They tried to do everything and that’s what it is,” commented Azkals coach Thomas Dooley.
With the stakes so high, the Philippines had no option but to attack as soon as the referee blew his whistle. Thailand, though, was still the dominant side in the period despite having star strikers Teerasil Dangda and Sirod Chattong on the bench.
Up front for Thailand was Mongkol Thosakrai who was a menace for the Azkals throughout the half. Thokrasai displayed his prowess early in the game when he forced a routine stop from Philippines goalie Roland Muller in the opening stages.
Amidst Thailand’s relentlessness, the Philippines could easily have clinched the lead after just eight minutes of play when Stephan Schrock’s freekick was deflected towards the post. The away side, though, easily repelled the danger.
It then became and end-to-end contest from both teams. Thai goalie and standing captain Sinthaweechai Hatthairattanakool easily saved attempts from Hikaru Minegishi and Schrock while Kroekrit Thawikan shot wide at the other end.
Hatthairattanakool was then forced to make a good save afterwards when he parried away Mike Ott’s effort. From the moment onwards, it was Thailand which looked to draw first blood and put one nail on the Azkals’ coffin.
Charyl Chappuis easily outran the Filipino defenders and should have given Thailand the lead, only for Muller to deny him with a fine safe. Just before the break, the Thais had the best chance of the game so far. Thawikan crossed the ball which was headed narrowly over by Thosakrai with the goal at his mercy.
It finished Philippines 0-0 Thailand at the half. The Azkals had a lot to do if they wanted to beat the War Elephants for the first time in 40 years to enter the semi-finals.
Similar to the past two games, the a much-improved Azkals side went onto the pitch after the break. Manuel Ott looked to get on the scoresheet, but his two attempts failed to test Hatthairattanakool early in the period.
Chances then came aplenty for the Azkals. Martin Steuble forced an easy catch from Hatthairattanakool and then substitutes James Younghusband and Misagh Bahadoran linked up with the Filipino-Iranian missing narrowly in the Thai box.
Suddenly, Thailand had a spring in its step. Sarawut penetrated the Azkals box and unleashed a cross which, thankfully for the Philippines, wasn’t converted at the opposite flank. The Thais inched closer to a goal as Thawikan hit the side-netting.
At the 80th minute, however, came the end of the Philippines’ hopes. Sarawut went through on goal and clinically dispatched the ball past Muller to score for the away side. There were 10 minutes left in the game and the Azkals needed two goals, but the Thailand defense easily dealt with the circumstances.
In the end, the Philippines lost 0-1 versus Thailand and that just compounded the ill feeling as Indonesia won 2-1 against Singapore. Thailand and Indonesia go through to the semi-finals as the Philippines and Singapore are eliminated.
“There isn’t much more in there. Individual mistakes you will have that always. We couldn’t score, that was bad. Overall, obviously we would like to go to the next round. It’s disappointing and we have to move on,” Dooley concluded.
Philippines XI: Muller (GK), Ott Mr, Ott M, Schrock, Casambre, Younghusband (C), Aguinaldo, Steuble, Daniels, Minegishi, Christiaens
Thailand XI: Hathairattanakool (GK, C), Notechaiya, Thawikan, Promrak, Chappuis, Thosakrai, Lahsoh, Masuk, Namwiset, Deeprom, Boonyong
Lilipaly scores late, sends Indonesia to semis
The Indonesian men’s football team squashed recent mishaps in their national football federation as Stephano Lilipaly scored in the 85th minute against Singapore, sending the Garudas to the semifinals of the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup, Friday evening at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The Singaporeans were the ones who took the upper hand early as veteran Khairul Amri found the back of the net at the 27th minute.
The Lions were threatening at the start of the match, and the goal was the fruit of their hard labor. Safuwan Baharudin sent the ball to Amri’s direction and the scorer finished it with a beautiful scissor kick.
Nonetheless, Indonesia would not be denied of chances themselves with Lilipaly on attack mode.
The Singaporeans were fortunate to hang on to the slim 1-0 lead at the break.
With their backs against the wall, the Garudas pushed for the equalizer in the second half. Several chances came from Boaz Salossa and Lilipaly, but Sunny Hassan was there to deny these shots.
These momentum on the offense was just too much, and the Indonesians finally plucked the tying goal. The white-shirts took advantage of Singapore’s lax defense and scored with Andik Vermansyah in the 62nd minute.
Both teams tried to break the deadlock in the succeeding minutes, but to no avail.
It took another defensive lapse on the side of the 2012 champions to swing the match in favor of Indonesia. Boaz slipped unmarked on left side, sending it to Lilipaly. The forward then caught Hassan off guard with a lovely volley for the eventual winning goal.
Indonesia took the win and the three points, sending them back to the semifinals after finishing second in Group A. Singapore bows out of the group stage for the second consecutive edition.
Against All Odds: Azkals face must-win situation against Thailand
The Philippines’ National Men’s Football Team (Azkals) is fighting for their semis slot as they battle Thailand in the 2016 AFC Suzuki Cup at the Philippine Sports Stadium tomorrow night.
The Azkals need to place in second for them to advance in the semifinals and a maiden win over powerhouse Thailand will seal their fate into the final four once more. Failure to win does not automatically eliminate the Azkals, but it would let them depend on the Indonesia-Singapore encounter which would have to end in a draw. The stalemate will then need to be coupled by Azkals getting a draw or losing by just one goal.
“It’s the last game for us [in the group]. It is an important one for us because we need to win this game, that’s gonna be a little bit of pressure on the players in the field,” said head coach Thomas Dooley on their upcoming match against Thailand.
Last Tuesday, the Azkals suffered a 2-2 draw against Indonesia, this comes after they also had a goalless draw against Singapore in their opening game last Saturday.
For the Thailand side coached by Kiatisuk “Zico” Senamuang, his team is already in the semis after escaping Singapore 1-0 last Tuesday. Now, they are treating the game against their Filipino counterpart as another dogfight.
“‘Tomorrow’s game is important, Like our last two matches, we will fight this out . In tomorrow’s game we [will] utilize some new players. They are so strong, efficient and balanced team so we will stand up’’ Senamuang echoed.
Zico also issued a challenge for the Azkals, who will play in front of the home crowd tomorrow night.
“The past two games is good. If you want to move to be with us in the next round, you need to beat us tomorrow,” the former Thai national team star, who had three wins against the Philippines as a player, said.
Dooley, on the other side, has high praise for the Azkals despite the two draws their experience for the last two games. “For the last two games, the players showed effort and energy in the field, that’s what you need,” the American mentor added.
Dooley is ready to accept the challenge as the Azkals are not only looking to barge into the semifinals of the Suzuki Cup but also eyeing to win against the Thais for the first time in 44 years.
“I think that motivation is enough against the team we never and we want to beat for the semifinals. Sometimes, anything can happen,” the American mentor said. “When you play like Thailand who is already in the next round [they] then become loose about, strong but not anymore concrete, that could be an easy game.”
“Whenever you see the team, stress and under pressure, you need to be focus 100 percent and visualize the game, your opponent. Give your best quality you had as a player and effort as a team then we had a chance to win. That’s we need to prepare and asked with the players.”
The Philippines-Thailand game is set to take place at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan. Kick off is at 8:00pm, the same time the Indonesia-Singapore match, which will be held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, will commence.
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