German booters trounce Azkals
MANILA–The Philippine football team absorbed its first defeat in its series of tuneup matches in Germany Wednesday, losing to German second division side FC Ingolstadt, 0-4, in Ingolstadt.
Orphaned by key players Ray Jonsson, Jerry Lucena and Stephan Schrock, who missed the game because of commitment to their clubs, the Azkals yielded to a well-drilled side that finished 14th in their league last season.
The Azkals fell two goals behind after just 20 minutes as Andreas Buchneer scored on a cool finish to open the scoring before Fabian Gerber headed home to double the lead for the squad known as the Schanzer.
Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge committed a rare mistake in the 31st minute, unable to handle a back pass leading to an own goal, before Marvin Matip made it 4-nil at the stroke of halftime.
The Azkals had crushed their two rivals—Duren selection and Bonner SC Under-19—in the first two matches of their Germany camp, but faced a far tougher, more experienced Ingolstadt side which also boasted of Edson Buddle, who played for the United States in the 2010 World Cup.
The Azkals wrap up their camp against third division side Darmstadt on Friday, before flying to Sri Lanka the next day for the first leg of their World Cup qualifying duel on June 29 in Colombo.
While Paul Mulders made his debut, the Azkals missed Schrock who was impressive in the first two games of the camp and Jonsson, who has been efficient for the Azkals at leftback.
“We knew it was going to be difficult from the start and it was,” said Azkals striker Phil Younghusband. “They were a good team who played together for most of the year at a good level.”
Azkals skipper Aly Borromeo said there were positives in defeat.
“The morale is still good because we learned lessons from the loss,” Borromeo said in a message to the Inquirer.
“We played against an experienced side that dominated the second division last year. We can only gain from this and look to get better.”
“They were good. We just made some individual mistakes that proved costly,” said Etheridge.
The Azkals can find solace in the fact that they played better in the second half, although by that time, majority of the players on the pitch for Ingolstadt were second stringers.
“In the second half we improved. We kept our composure and didn’t rush things,” said Borromeo, who also pointed out that the Azkals have yet to play with a complete lineup.
“It was a better second half and a great learning experience for us and more games against teams of this quality, the better,” said Younghusband. “This is all preparation for Sri Lanka and I’m sure Sri Lanka would not have played at the standard we just played.”
Meanwhile, the Philippine Football Federation yesterday gave assurance that the Rizal Memorial Stadium will be ready for the home match versus Sri Lanka on July 3.
In the event that the extra time and penalties will be needed to settle the outcome, PFF president Nonong Araneta said there is enough lighting in the stadium to accommodate a night match.
“We are ready,” said Araneta at a media briefing where he was joined by general coordinator Cathy Rivilla and local organizing committee chair Bonnie Ladrido.
Araneta said that if the Azkals hurdle Sri Lanka, the home match for the second round against Kuwait will also be held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on July 28.
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