Wednesday, September 26, 2012

PFPC Azkals vs the Matao, in with the old, in with the new!

Patrick Reichelt's moment of glory*

I'm not going to do the typical game report as there are numerous accounts already available, I also promised myself I won't rant about both Younghusband's "situation" with the team management, so I won't. It'll be the typical Wiking player performance rants and a few random thoughts.

You may pull your eject handle now or stick around for my Azkal fanboy blog!


No doubt it was a deserved win, though every true blue Azkal fan certainly breathed a sigh of relief and asked why it took over 80 minutes to ice the game against a virtual U21 team! I say this because at one point of the match almost one half of the Matao were composed of 18 year old's and if memory serves me right, one was even 17! So performing a quick and rough math(read: guessing) and averaging them out it probably ends up at 21-23 years old!

Third victory in a row!? Why yes mon frere. The Philippines has played Guam a total of three times in its history, the first time in Vietnam on Jan 29 2000. We beat them 2-0 and again this year in Bacolod(3-0). Guam has never scored against the Philippines. 


I usually have a choice for an Azkal formation prior to gameday but with the hodgepodge feel of the roster, the heretofore uncapped players, misfiring back up strikers, returning former NT players, only one true centerback, missing it's best striker, I clearly had no idea what mad scientist Weiss had in his mind. Would he use the 4-5-1 formation that handed us the Challenge Cup 3rd place medal or the 2011 standy?

Lo and behold, surely a bow to Phils superiority(or is it Wolfs and Aranetas weakness' ?), Weiss reverted to the tried and tested 4-4-2! Weiss idea, err, wise idea because it worked

I'd like to start where credit is due:

Ed Sacapano - Lets face it, when most Azkal fans hear that Ed will be incharge of the goal most everyone's first reaction is an "oh shit" face. ADMIT IT! Yes you, pretty little fan girl in the front who goes to church on Sundays! But against Guam, Ed showed a cool and collected performance that showed why, despite his below average height(for a GK), weak goal kicks and his unspectacular speed he remains an important part of the Azkal roster. Ed was fearless, committed virtually no mistakes, in short he was supremely efficient. Now don't get me wrong, he wasn't called upon to make the spectacular saves that his opposite counterpart Harrick was called upon, but nor did he allow a goal. It's a "clean shirt" according to Ruf... never mind.

Jason de Jong - I've mentioned before how Weiss used Jason as a center back in last years SEAG and the results were catastrophic. His last performance against Cambodia left much to be desired too, but like any "mad scientist", FrankenWeiss saw something in Mr.Yellowwaitingtohappen to continue the experiment. And wow! The young, but veteran Azkal has shown a maturity not seen in him previously. The once wild one has tempered his play and has now become a coaching favorite. But before we say we found our new future centerback, lets remember that the Matao was left to their infrequent counter attacks by our superior midfield which made it a relatively easy game for him. In summary, de Jong continues to grow into this position and no doubt will get better if he remains disciplined, something we haven't seen before. 

Jeffrey Christiaens - This game, more than any other since he started playing left defense, showed how offensive minded he remains. He also shows incredible acceleration and footwork in the open field, it's safe to say the fastest side is our left when Chieffy and Jeff are on the field together. A scary sight for a defender to see. One more thing, try to watch him throughout a particular game. He plays the same speed from the 1st minute to the last, tireless.

Demitrius Omphroy - I and most of us in has been watching this kid since last year(yes, even before he got stuck in the airport prior to the LA Galaxy match) and the funny thing is, this cat has not been playing organized, competitive football for a few months now and oh-me-oh-my he plays like he just left an MLS club last week! He showed how offensive he can play, how good he can pass, how much pace he has, BUT his defense was not really tested. I'd like to reserve judgement on him playing leftback or leftwing until he's been through teams that Anton del Rosario and Carli has faced before.

Matthew Uy - Not one comment or article I've read has mentioned this: He is out of shape! Anyone not starry eyed can see he's carrying a case or two of beer in that gut. Matt started out slow, flubbing a few passes until he found his groove. One can see the quality and football IQ of this kid and honestly he showed some bursts of speed too but I'm sure another month or two in the Philippine and maybe middle eastern sun will quickly bring him to his optimum playing weight. As of now South East Asian speed burners like Kunanlan from Malaysia and that Indonesian youngster "Okto" would eat him for lunch.

Anto Gonzales - The comeback king! It's been awhile but he's back. Like Lexton Moy, both these playes "see" the pass first when they have the ball. No frills, no BS, down to get dirty, these guys will play defense and offense in equal measures. Arguably, besides Reichelts goal, Lexton had the best shot on goal all night. 

Denis Wolf - He is clearly getting frustrated, one can see it in his actions on the pitch. Besides the numerous missed opportunities maybe its time to change positions? His current goal scoring slump extends to his last season in Germany with 1.FC Magdeburg. One thing he's got in his favor is his good speed, active motor and willingness to play some defense. How about venturing into the attacking midfield position(ala Paul Mulders)? But, yes, I do realize he needs to get into the groove fast because...

Ian Araneta - is predictable as ever! So very many good looking chances time and again yet no results. I stopped counting at 5 good looks at goal. Poor Ian has been ineffective for over a year now yet seems to be a lock in Weiss' roster. He hasn't lacked the opportunity to "get over" the hump either but maybe by playing him again and again, some younger player is missing their chance to shine?

Patrick Reichelt - Please indulge me, I'd just like to toot my horn once again, you see, when everyone forgot about Pat(well, maybe not Weiss & company), I remembered and I wrote this blog and lo and behold now he's part of the pack and wins a game for the Azkals! This offense first, high flyer will definitely be a valuable Azkal for years to come! 


This choice is very hard for me to make so I'll make it easy for myself. I'll have a MotM for the Azkals & a MotM for the game and I'll explain why.

Azkals MotM for me would be Patrick Reichelt. Why? Because he scored the game winner and because of the nature of that goal. The ball he got was not a pass but rather a poorly cleared ball from the Guam side which he pounced on and outjumped an opposing player for a header. Besides that he showed verb and enterprise on the attack all game long while being aware on the backfoot(defensive situations). Omphroy is his only other competition here in my opinion.

Man of the Match - Harrick, that poor Matao goal keeper! Why, because he single handedly kept his team in contention for over 80 minutes, thats why! When it looked like the Matao defense was non existent he was the island in the midst of the Azkal tidal wave. spectacular saves? You got it! Against Moy and Porteria to name a few. But Wiking, they lost! Well some Medal of Honor awardee don't make it out alive either, it doesn't change the fact they did something pretty damn awesome. And the kid was damn awesome! 


Before you fall in love with the formation of this past Guam fixture, remember that a lot of the Azkals weaknesses and vulnerability in this match can remain hidden when playing against weaker opponents. Though one can take much positives from this victory, do not think for a second this performance or game roster would suffice against our more experienced and stronger south east asian rivals. It's a work in progress I know, though we're on the right track.

*Yes I asked permission from AS to use the picture.

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