DRAW AFTERMATH: Azkals must show up before its too late | Inquirer Sports

DRAW AFTERMATH: Azkals must show up before its too late

By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 09:31 AM November 21, 2016
Singapore football player Safuwan Bahrudin (C) vies for the the ball with Kenshiro Daniels of the Philippines during their Suzuki Cup football final round match at the Philippine arena in Bocaue, Bulacan province, north of Manila on November 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

Singapore football player Safuwan Bahrudin (C) vies for the the ball with Kenshiro Daniels of the Philippines during their Suzuki Cup football final round match at the Philippine arena in Bocaue, Bulacan province, north of Manila on November 19, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

BOCAUE, Bulacan – Unable to cash in on its chances, especially in the second half, host Philippines was held to a goalless draw by 10-man Singapore Saturday night in Group A of the AFF Suzuki Cup at Philippine Sports Stadium.

While they walked away with their first point of the tournament, Azkals captain Phil Younghusband felt they let two points slip away as they failed to make their numerical advantage count in a game where the Lions took a defensive approach.

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The draw isn’t fatal for the Azkals, but the result definitely makes qualifying out of the group harder, considering that Thailand, which the Philippines faces on Friday, seems to be in fine form in the 4-2 win over Indonesia. The Indonesians also looked dangerous, battling back from a couple of goals down to tie the Thais, who needed two late goals to secure three points.

Indonesia battles the Philippines on Tuesday, seeking payback from the 4-0 drubbing it suffered in Hanoi two years ago.

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The Azkals have no recourse but to pick up maximum points against Indonesia as a loss or a draw leaves them with a must-win game against the Thais, a team they have not beaten in the 20-year history of the tournament.

A stop-start opening meant it took awhile for the Azkals to settle into the match. But the Azkals caught a break when the Lions went down to 10 men in the 35th minute as Hafiz Sujad was dismissed for a dangerous challenge on Younghusband.

The Lions hung on to keep the scores level at the break, but the Azkals came out more threatening in the second half following the introduction of Pika Minegishi, who immediately tested Hassan Sunny with a low shot two minutes into his entry.

Another chance fell to Stephan Schrock, but the midfielder just saw his shot blocked by two Singapore defenders before landing safely at Sunny.

It was one way traffic for most of the second half, but with Singapore putting more men behind the ball, it became increasingly difficult and frustrating for the Azkals.

With little movement in the penalty box and the passing and tempo not quick enough to befuddle the Lions, the Azkals were limited to half chances until a flowing move released Minegishi inside the area. The Fil-Japanese skied his effort much to the frustration of the home crowd in the 80th minute.

This result could come back to haunt the Azkals in their qualifying bid. They had a squad capable of beating Singapore, which was considered a weaker side than the one which beat the Azkals in the semi-finals in 2012. But even with 10 men, they couldn’t break through.

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There’s no point in pinning blame as the Azkals try to look ahead in their remaining matches. As the Azkals struggled to break down the Lions, coach Thomas Dooley, though, hardly changed the Azkals style. He did make personnel changes by introducing Minegishi and Hartmann but the Azkals looked predictable for long spells in the second half as they just knocked the ball in and around the area. It certainly played into Singapore’s hands and the draw turned out to be a fair result just because the Azkals failed to convert their opportunities.

If the Azkals intend on winning the Suzuki Cup for the first time, they must show up before its too late.

MATCH RATINGS

MATCH RATINGS - DRAW VS SINGAPORE

Phil Younghusband 7 – Worked ever so hard to keep possession and dictate the tempo of play of the Azkals, he finally played his best game in the holding midfield role that Dooley assigned to him. Kept his discipline as he hardly ventured forward inside the box where he could be most deadly, having scored 42 international goals. Showed some of his combative qualities and looks to be growing in his role.

Stephan Schrock 7 – Looked like a player who most likely would have broken the deadlock in the first half. He tested Hassan Sunny with a dipping free kick from 40 yards out early on, before wasting another chance in the second half when he dribbled past a couple of defenders only to see his effort collected by Sunny. Teed up Minegishi for the Azkals’ best chance in the 80th minute.

Kenshiro Daniels 7 – Repaid Dooley’s faith in him with a solid shift at rightback, before he was replaced late on by Junior Munoz due to a minor knee injury. He got off to a shaky start, losing the ball a couple of times but eventually coped well with the threat of Safuwan Baharudin on the left. Made a timely intervention on Faris Ramli’s dangerous ball inside the area in the second half.

Mike Ott 7 – Dazzled with his pace and close control, he gave the Singapore defense fits in the final third. But he struggled with his finishing and linkup play particularly with other players apart from older bro, Manny, whom he set a couple of times for shots. Will surely improve as he develops understanding with other attacking players.

Pika Minegishi 6.5 – Made an immediate impact after coming on in place of Iain Ramsay at the break. Tested Hassan a couple of times, first with a low drive in the 47th minute, before forcing the Singapore keeper to go full stretch with a header in stoppage time. Showed his skill and guile and pace, his debut would have been more memorable had he finished off the Azkals’ best chance from close range in the 80th minute.

Amani Aguinaldo 6.5 – Held a makeshift backline together in a pressure-packed match, which is no easy task for a 21-year-old. Gave a way a few needless free kicks from distance as he got physical with Khairul Amri. Was never really seriously troubled after Singapore went down to 10 men.

Jeffrey Christiaens 6.5 – Also acquitted himself well as the left-sided centerback. Issued a few wayward passes to Ramsay, but overall an assured display for a first-time centerback.

Manny Ott 6.5 – Linked up well with younger brother, Mike, in the final third, and got into the box on numerous occasions, but couldn’t find his scoring boots as Singapore put up a virtual wall in the area.

Roland Muller 6.5 – Dealt well with Singapore’s balls into his area and made an early stop on an Amri effort. Recovered well enough to collect an ambitious effort from Safuwan Baharudin. Save for a ball that he spilled in the first half, he was largely troubled on his way to a clean sheet.

Kevin Ingreso 6 – Supported the attack on the left well, but his defensive shortcomings were exposed on more than one occassion. Was easily beaten by Faris Ramli on the dribble in the second half as he wasn’t able to adjust his body shape quick enough to cover the inside run, leading to what turned out to be Singapore’s most dangerous chance after going down to 10 men.

Misagh Bahadoran 6 – Starved of service, Bahadoran cut a frustrated figure as he was subbed early in the second half. Started on the right wing to accommodate Mike Ott, before moving up front, Bahadoran was largely invisible as he didn’t get the supply he needed to be effective.
Iain Ramsay 6 – A quiet 45-minute stint for the Filipino-Australian winger as the Azkals couldn’t settle into the game with Singapore’s tendency to disrupt play and waste time.

Mark Hartmann 6 – Came in for Bahadoran and took on the role as the man up front. Dropped deep on several occasions to keep the attack going, he wasted a good opportunity with a curling effort going wide. Cant really do much with so many defenders crowding the box.

Junior Munoz N/A – Came in late into the game for an injured Daniels. Didn’t have much time to make an impact.

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TAGS: AFF Suzuki Cup, match ratings, Philippine Azkals
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