Azkals battle Taiwan to scoreless draw | Inquirer Sports

Azkals battle Taiwan to scoreless draw

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 01:18 PM October 03, 2011

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan—Struggling on attack, the Philippine Azkals settled for a scoreless draw against a stubborn Chinese-Taipei side Sunday night, putting a dent on their title aspirations in the Long Teng Cup here.

The Azkals needed the brilliance of goalkeeper Roland Muller to stay in the thick of the fight, but they couldn’t break the deadlock despite Phil Younghusband and Jeff Christiaens getting gilt-edged chances in the second half at the National Stadium here.


With back-to-back draws, the Azkals are now in third with two points behind Chinese-Taipei and Hong Kong with four points each.

With Hong Kong crushing Macau, 5-1, early Sunday, the Azkals need to win by at least five goals and hope that Chinese-Taipei and Hong Kong play to a draw in the last match on Tuesday to claim the crown.


The Azkals, bannered by five players from the Under-23 pool, were on the backfoot for long periods and when they got their chance, they were left frustrated by a resolute Taiwanese side that beat Suzuki Cup champion Malaysia, 3-2, two months ago.

The offside trap was the defensive weapon of choice by the Taiwanese, who forced the Azkals to nine offsides in a match neither team controlled.

“We were not smart enough to beat the offside trap. We were a little helpless,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss.

Muller was at his best during a 10-minute spell in the first half where he saved a long-range effort Chan Che Yuan, parried away a low shot from inside the area from Chen Po Liang and blocked a stinging shot from He Ming Chan on a one-on-one situation.

Chan got in behind the Azkals defense with a well-timed diagonal run that led to the best scoring chance of the match.

“It was good for the team and my confidence,” Muller said of his performance. The 23-year-old Muller is currently the third choice keeper at German second division side Duisburg.

Chieffy Caligdong, who scored twice in the 3-3 draw against Hong Kong, was substituted at halftime after picking up an injury from a hard challenge from Chen Yu Lin.


Christiaens, a 19-year-old who grew up in Belgium, replaced Caligdong and made an impact, linking up with Younghusband to create the best chance for the Azkals.

But the teenager can only shoot wide from just inside the box with his weaker right foot after a square pass from Younghusband on the counter attack.

The new-look defensive line of Oliver Poetschke, Aly Borromeo, De Murga and Neckson Leonora, after enduring some nervy moments in the opening half, settled down in the last 45 minutes.

But Muller had to be alert one last time to stop Wu Chiun Chiang’s effort in the 82nd minute.

“It was a decent game for the boys,” said Weiss. “They put up a great fight. But it wasn’t spectacular.”

Team manager Dan Palami found a silver lining in the draw.

“We played with five Under-23 players and I think they acquitted themselves well,” said Palami, who is also managing the squad to the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia next month.

“The performance of our Under-23 players give us good hope,” said Weiss.

De Murga, Leonora, Matthew Hartmann, Christiaens and Muller are members of the Under-23 pool for the SEA Games.

Aside from Leonora, Fil-Chinese Lexton Moy also made his debut for the Azkals coming in late in the second half for Ian Araneta, who was unable to replicate his heroics last year when he scored the equalizer in injury time against Taipei.

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TAGS: Azkals, Chinese Taipei, Football, Jeff Christiaens, Phil Younghusband, Philippines, Roland Mueller, Sports, Taiwan
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