Match Preview: Philippines vs Indonesia | Inquirer Sports

Match Preview: Philippines vs Indonesia

/ 09:37 PM November 21, 2016


BOCAUE, Bulacan – The Philippines faces the first of two must-win matches in Group A Wednesday night when it battles Indonesia at Philippine Sports Stadium. Picking up one point from the goalless draw against 10-man Singapore last Saturday night, the Azkals have been left with a more difficult route to the semifinals as they now need to pick up points from their remaining games starting with an Indonesian side that impressed even in the 2-4 loss to Thailand. Another loss for the Azkals will dim their hopes of reaching the next round as they would need the result of the Indonesia-Singapore on Friday at Rizal Memorial Stadium to go their way apart from winning against Thailand at PSS.


Azkals coach Thomas Dooley said his team’s mindset hasn’t changed even though there was plenty of frustration within the team from the first game, which they felt they should have won. “We still know we needed to win this (Indonesia) game regardless of the result of the first game (against Singapore),” said Dooley. It would be easier said than done because judging from the Azkals’ performance against the Lions and Indonesia’s gallant stand against the Thais, the hosts may need more than just a big fighting heart against the Merah Putih. They would need the pace to keep up with Indonesia’s quick wingers in Andik Vermansyah and Rizky Pora and the strength and experience to keep strikers Lerby Babu and Boas Salossa from wreaking havoc inside the box. More importantly, they need to find the back of the net again after constantly misfiring against a stout Singapore defense. As the Azkals brace for what is now their most important game, here are some of the factors that could come into play in the match.



Philippines' Younghusband (L) fights for the ball with Indonesia's Achmad Jufriyanto during  an AFF Suzuki 2014 Cup match  at Hanoi's My Dinh stadium on November 25, 2014. Philippines led 1-0 after the first half. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam / AFP PHOTO / HOANG DINH NAM

Philippines’ Younghusband (L) fights for the ball with Indonesia’s Achmad Jufriyanto during an AFF Suzuki 2014 Cup match at Hanoi’s My Dinh stadium on November 25, 2014. Philippines led 1-0 after the first half. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam / AFP PHOTO / HOANG DINH NAM

Dooley isn’t one to hide what his team lacks. And whether he uses statements as an excuse or as a way to challenge his team, it comes as no surprise when he admitted that he feels the lack of leaders in his current lineup. Phil Younghusband is the captain, but the top international scorer isn’t the vocal type and chooses to lead by example. The past AFF Suzuki Cup tournaments saw big, vocal personalities within the Azkals side coming into play, especially when the team’s back was against the wall. The likes of Rob Gier, Chris Greatwich and to some extent, Neil Etheridge, weren’t afraid to call out teammates for slacking off. They also took the challenge to organize the team defensively, which became a source of pride and strength for the Azkals. The homegrown crew had Chieffy Caligdong to turn to for leadership in the early years of the Azkals. Gier and Greatwich have both retired from international football, while Etheridge skipped the tournament due to club commitments. Caligdong, now Dooley’s chief deputy, said the senior players should step up to lead the squad. “If we want to make history, it’s not enough that we’re just part of this team. We have to improve ourselves,” said Caligdong.

“It could get really quiet sometimes, like a cemetery,” Dooley said when asked on who has taken on the role as the team’s vocal leader. “(Daisuke) Sato was the closest who can do the role, but he’s not here. Its something that we need to develop in the squad.”


The Azkals played before a crowd of 4,300 last Saturday, which was perhaps one of the lowest in terms of turnout for an AFF Suzuki Cup game. It was a stark contrast from the scenes in Group B in Yangon, where the Thuwanna Stadium was filled to the brim as Myanmar lost to Vietnam, 1-2, in the Group B opener. The Philippine Football Federation worked so hard to bring the Suzuki Cup to the country, but the promotional aspect of the event left a lot to be desired. Add to the fact that fans encountered problems while taking the P2P buses to the stadium from Trinoma Mall and the event could lose more spectators. PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta vowed to take action to ensure a repeat of the incident last Saturday when fans were made to wait for hours for the bus that would take them to Bocaue. It was encouraging to see the Ultras Filipinas leading the chants, which rubbed off on the fans at the other side of the stadium. The Azkals need their 12th man more than ever as they try to salvage their campaign on Tuesday night.


Make no mistake about it, the Azkals will be facing a stronger Indonesian side than the one they drubbed, 4-0, in the same tournament two years ago. Coach Alfred Reidl declared he has a “fitter” team than the one he in the disastrous campaign in Hanoi, where he only had a week to prepare his squad. Despite the loss to Thailand, Reidl said there were plenty of positives to draw from the match. “We played a very good game against Thailand which are the clear favorites in this tournament,” the Austrian said. “We believe we can beat the Philippines.” The Indonesians actually had a couple of good chances, before going 0-2 down at halftime. They were resilient against the Thais, scoring two quick goals in the second half, before getting undone by Teerasil Dangda’s brilliance. Reidl’s side boasts of fleet-footed wingers and strong strikers who are good in the air.

Although the defense remains suspect, Salossa and Lerby have already opened their scoring account for the tournament with headers, giving them confidence ahead of the critical clash with the Azkals.

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TAGS: AFF Suzuki Cup, Cedelf's Corner, Indonesia, Philippine Azkals
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