Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Sports Corner: Of AFC Challenge Cup and The Azkals
Perhaps time literally stopped here at RP earlier this day during the Philippine Azkals' second bout against the win-hungry Mongolian Blue Wolves. Surely, t'was a tight match, given the opponent's desperation to earn a spot in the prelims and the weather which most of the boys from RP aren't familar with. But then, seems that Lady Luck sided with the rabid pinoy warriors this time.
Let us examine a couple of factors that were quite noticeable during the match.
Perhaps the biggest concern everyone had for the team, the harsh winter climate at Mongolia sure became a true obstacle for the Azkals. Obviously, most of them are aliens to this type of environment. The tight weather decreased an ample percentage of their mobility and left everyone vulnerable against injury risks. The high altitude also gave them a lot of trouble, given that it slows down their breathing rate at some point.
This factor played an important role in the match. Noticeably, our boys performed their plays sluggishly, with them becoming prone to injury and some of our defenders rendered unable to move at their usual speeds(e.g, Chiffy Caligdong). However, the collective will of the entire team gave them the strength to brave through the climate.
Edward Sacapaño as Neil Etheridge's substitute
Neil's absence during the game indeed was a big loss for the Azkals. Edward was a midfielder prior to the 2nd leg. His transition into becoming a goalkeeper took a toll for this bout. While it is true that he performed fine earlier with his good positioning and intuition, he did not possess the grip and sense of Neil when it comes to the said position.
As expected, Mongolia played tighter with regards to their formations, sporting a defensive play that hindered the Azkals from penetrating shots. The Azkals, on the other hand remained on their objective of pressing the attack whilst claiming possession for the remainder of the game. They did a good job in rendering their plays, however as I've mentioned above, the climate became a literal enemy of theirs during the game, thus hindering them from performing them at a much higher rate.
All in all, the Azkals literally experienced birthing throes, which is normal for a football team. I believe Coach Michael Weiss must improve the team's training schedule, as well as its phases and etc. I hope the members took notes during the game earlier, that would aid them a great deal in their future matches.
Keep it up boys. Let the passion continue on burning. Game on. :)