Hot Azkals eye payback

Face old foe Turkmenistan for top Challenge Cup slot


FIL-SPANISH striker Javier Patiño beats his breast after scoring his debut goal for the Azkals in the 45th minute. On the right, teammates celebrate with four-goal hero Phil Younghusband after curling his second in the 31st. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS / ANTON SHEKER

Rob Gier has bad memories playing against Turkmenistan. The top Philippine defender is hoping things would change tonight.

Virtually assured of a spot in the AFC Challenge Cup, the Azkals hope to get back at an old tormentor in the Turkmen in the final match of Group E Qualifying at 7:30 p.m. at Rizal Memorial Stadium.

“I’ve lost to Turkmenistan twice, so it’s personal for me,” said Gier, the Azkals’ stand-in captain.

Gier’s last game against the Turkmen came last year in Nepal where the Azkals surrendered a 1-0 lead and lost, 1-2, in the Challenge Cup semifinals.

But the Azkals, with more talented players now in the fold, only need a draw to advance to the main tournament in the Maldives as the top team in the group, after scoring an emphatic 8-0 win over Cambodia.

The Turkmen also blasted the Cambodians, 7-0, last Friday.

Given that the two best second-placed teams in each group will also qualify for the Challenge Cup, even a narrow defeat for either team would still see both advance.

“Obviously, we want to win every match but we have to go there with a smart head,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss. “We can’t go in just like today and run into an open knife and then lose on a counterattack. We have to be smart and 100 percent in control. We must qualify for the Maldives under all circumstances.”

The Azkals will miss midfielder Paul Mulders, who was sent off in the 81st minute for kicking the ball at Cambodian striker Kim Bhorey. Chris Greatwich, Marwin Angeles, James Younghusband and Chieffy Caligdong are all candidates to take Mulders’ place.

The Azkals drew superb games from Phil Younghusband and debuting Javier Patiño and Stephan Schrock, who dazzled on the left wing despite poor pitch conditions.

Goalkeeper Roland Muller is expected to retain his place in the starting lineup after keeping a clean sheet against Cambodia. Weiss is reportedly leaving out Neil Etheridge from the lineup for the second straight match.

“I have no reason to change the team because the boys went through situations and displayed fantastic football,” Weiss said.

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  • Ronald Esparagoza

    ang galing ng Philippine azkals !

  • INQ_reader

    Nandoon ako sa Rizal Memorial Stadium. Sayang lang sobra lakas ng ulan kaya umuwi na lang ako kahit di pa tapos.

  • Jose Pepe

    Who is a Filipino? A Filipino is someone who’s culture and life
    principles represent of that from the Philippines, someone whose values
    reflects the customs and traditions uniquely identified from the

  • Andy Santiago

    Since when did Gier became the top Philippine defender?

  • busetkatalaga

    Dear PFF, your tickets are too overpriced! the pitch is the worst pitch ive seen in manila. For goods sake, do not pocket the money and focus on building the team and keep the enthusiasm of the fans. The team needs a full-house, and if that would mean to free the tickets, do it, you have big companies and sponsors awaiting the growth of football in the country. Be wise on marketing!

  • Ronald Esparagoza

    mamatay sa inggit mga crabs harharhar :)

  • Ronald Esparagoza

    mabuhay azkals ! dont mind the insecurity and crab mentality of PBA fans ! bring more honors and glory for our country !

  • bugabee

    mas proud sana tayo kung ang mga apelyido ng Azkal players ay Batungbakal halimbawa, o kaya Salagubang, Kukongmanok at iba pa, ‘no?

    • thor

      at sana ganun din ang Gilas no

    • Erwin Osorio

      We are global citizens now. Stop your Filipino stereotypes.

    • Ronald Esparagoza

      the name Filipinos are originally referred to Spanish living in the Philippines, natives are called indios. The natives revolted for equal rights.

    • ben987654321

      kaya backward ang pinas dahil sa backward na pag-iisip tulad mo. what’s in a name? you mean when national athletes like – jaworski, webb, co, bilbao, loyzaga, kutch, hines, etc. were competing for the country, di ka proud? ungas ka pala eh yung apilyido mo i’m sure either spanish or chinese galing yan. eh. puwede ba iwan mo ang ka mang-mangan mo sa toilet and flush it. gusto mo sumama ka na rin dun

    • dencio120608

      Batungbakal or Salagubang nga tapos di naman marunong maglaro! Nampucha mag isip ka nga ungas!

  • Noel

    We assume that all these foreign players have their Phl passports. But are they dual citizens and do their countries allow dual citizenship?

    • thor

      is the other side of sports allow this too?

      • Noel

        I don’t know. You can ask the other side.

    • Andy Santiago

      Of course, unless you are Singaporean, where dual-nationality does not exist.

      • Noel

        I think China, South Korea and Japan have no dual citizenship too.

  • Noel

    Something’s wrong between Coach Weiss and Goalie Neil. Why keep out Neil for second straight match? Neil is a better goalie. If Neil’s pride is hurt, he may not play for Azkals again.

    • Arvi Gerard D Rivera

      He served a two-match suspension for his behavior in last year’s game against Turkmenistan.

      • thor

        Sometimes they comment but they don’t understand the rules of football

      • CmdrAdobo

        hahah. ouch! :)

      • Manuruk

        Hindi lang yan. Mas marunong pa sila sa Coach. Mga long-distance decision-makers, kahit di alam ang sitwasyon at walang kakayanan, dakdak pa rin ng dakdak.

      • JM Rodriguez

        I thought he was only suspended for one game, and that is against Cambodia?

      • Noel

        That’s what I thought. He was suspended for only one game. According to Coach Weiss, he wants to give Muller this other game for keeping a clean slate meaning 0 goal. With the way our offense was, how did Muller be able to defend with the Cambodians not being able to score? From the very beginning, Weiss shows bias. He prefers his German players that English. The Younghusbands are allowed to play because of their celebrity status.

      • thor

        crabs comments basically.

      • Noel

        Not at all. It’s crap done by Coach Weiss.

      • Andy Santiago

        PH can easily win without the Younghusbands, case point: James was benched because of their primadonna attitude during practice. Bringing in Wolf, Phil would just be left with endorsements.

      • Noel

        Phil and James Younghusband make a good combination. They’ve played together for a long time and know each others’ moves very well. Same is true with Angel and Juan Guirado. Two other brothers, the Agustins, are also good. There are many brothers playing for Azkals.

      • Andy Santiago

        They make a good combination if the game were two-on-two, but come on, #10 doesnt even pass the ball. Check the game last night, there were at least 4 passes he missed to Schrock. However, i truly agree that brothers to brothers, they make a good combination (even Greatwich to Greatwich).

      • Noel

        In fairness to Phil, he’s a striker so expected to score. He’s used to scoring alone because he was the only one expected to do so in the past. With the presence now of many other strikers, we take notice of his habit of playing solo.

      • Noel

        Thanks. But what about Ed Sacapano who played very well last Suzuki Cup and is more senior?

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