Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Azkals force 2-2 draw with Indonesia in match marred by fight


The Philippine Azkals controlled much of the game and dictated the tempo throughout most of the match but found themselves leaving the pitch at the Rizal Memorial Stadium with nine men and lucky to escape with a draw, Tuesday.

After a goalless first half, Indonesia opened the scoring through Patrick Wenggai’s header in the 58th minute with James Younghusband equalizing a minute later.

Indonesia retook the lead two minutes later with captain Irfan Bachdim slotting the ball between the legs of Neil Etheridge.

Still dominating possession, the Philippines struggled to find a second equalizer and frustration boiled over as Cheiffy Caligdong, Manny Ott and Indonesian captain Irfan Bachdim all received their marching orders when they scuffled after a bad tackle.

Once the free-kick was taken, Phil Younghusband’s volley brought the Azkals back on level terms in the 84th minute.

The Azkals chased the game with nine men but couldn’t find a winner and will be disappointed with just a draw against a sub-par Indonesian side.

First half

The Azkals dominated the first half but couldn’t break through.

Early on, Chieffy Caligdong stole the ball from a poor back pass, but his curling right-footed effort was deflected wide. His cross minutes later saw Angel Guirado stoop low and bundle over his defender while getting his head to the ball.

The goalkeeper collected, but Indonesia were awarded a free kick anyway. Meanwhile, left back Dennis Cagara pulled the strings on the left flank, showing superb positional play and marking, while his passes upfield threatened, but the final killer ball proved elusive.

Indonesia, by contrast, rarely threatened and when Rob Gier was forced too far forward to recover a loose Jason Sabio pass, the resulting through ball found Indonesian captain Irfan Bachdim through on goal in the 22nd minute. But he was called back for offside - though there wasn’t much in it.

Five minutes later and Sabio made up for the error by providing the closest chance of the half as another lofted long throw fed Angel Guirado. The Azkals were proving difficult to deal with in the air and the Global forward got his head to the ball, but it bounced off the bar.

Phil Younghusband wrestles for the ball with an Indonesian player. He would later be responsible for the PHL's tie at the 84th minute. Danny Pata

Supported by Dennis Cagara, Chieffy Caligdong roamed the right wing and when he turned his man again, Chieffy sprinted down the left but was brought down by a strong tackle from Novan Setia.

Setia picked up the first yellow card of the game for the late slide tackle and as Manny Ott floated the free-kick in, Angel Guirado arrived to meet the ball. But after beating his marker yet again in the air, he just couldn’t quite get enough of his head to it to force it towards goal.

Second half

The first half ended goalless but with the Azkals clearly dominating.

Coach Weiss made four changes as Roland Müller replaced Neil Etheridge in goal, Marwin Angeles made way for Jerry Lucena and the Younghusband brothers came on for Paul Mulders and Denis Wolf.

However it was Angel Guirado who had the next chance as Chieffy Caligdong swung in a deep cross to the Global forward, who again made a good run to connect at the end, but could only head straight at the keeper. Two minutes later Cagara’s corner was met by Angel Guirado, but his header went over this time.

Then Indonesia finally threatened the Azkals’ goal as a quick counter gave Novan Sieta space on the right wing and his cross was met by Patrick Wenggai’s header to give Indonesia the lead in the 58th minute.

Fortunately for the Azkals, Indonesia’s Satrio Syam gifted the Philippines an equalizer a minute later as his pass was easily intercepted by James Younghusband, who, despite finding himself one-on-one with experienced goalkeeper Markus Maulana, coolly slotted into the goal.

As the rain began to pour, the pitch became slippery and the Indonesian goalkeeper was almost at fault for gifting the Azkals a goal. Chieffy stole the ball and fed Guirado, whose strong shot slipped through the keeper’s fingers. Fortunately for him, it just went wide.

Cagara’s inswinging corner was then dropped by Maulana, but the Indonesian defense managed to clear.

James Younghusband connects on the Azkals' first goal of the night at the 59th minute. Danny Pata

As they cleared Carli De Murga headed back, but only gave away possession and the return ball found Irfan Bachdim in behind the defense. Faced with Neil Etheridge, he nutmegged the keeper and gave the Indonesian fans another reason to cheer as they began to chant ‘isa pa, isa pa.’

Bringing on Misagh Bahadoran for Angel Guirado gave the Philippines another pair of fresh legs and the winger fought hard for the ball but again the Philippines lacked the killer instinct.

In the 75th minute another fumble from Maulana in goal presented the Azkals with two chances as the first weak effort was blocked before Misagh Bahadoran’s shot was cleared off the line.

The Azkals were getting frustrated and that boiled over when Novan Seita fouled substitute Misagh Bahadoran. Reacting to the challenge, both teams eventually piled into a melee. It’s unclear what happened but it’s reported that Irfan Bachdim threw a punch while Chieffy Caligdong’s constant complaining to the referees and Manny Ott’s hotheaded involvement with a few players pushing each other meant the trio were sent off.

Once the free-kick was finally taken, the deep cross from Cagara picked out James Younghusband, whose first touch volleyed the ball to his brother Phil. He kept the ball in the air and volleyed into the back of the net for the equalizer.

Chasing the game with nine men, the Azkals ended with ten shots on target, fifteen in total, while Indonesia scored two of their three shots on target and had only one shot off target.

Surprising first team line-up

The final line-up was surprising as Marwin Angeles was chosen as the replacement for Schröck while after a strong performance against Malaysia, Roland Müller was rewarded with another start against Indonesia at the expense of normal first choice goalkeeper Neil Etheridge. Meanwhile, both Younghusband brothers were also out of the starting eleven as it seems the Azkals management looked to reward those players who joined the training camps.

Coach Weiss explained after the game that while the result itself wasn’t the best, the games are being used to test players and formations ahead of the Suzuki Cup.

Philippines ranked third in South East Asia

Grinding out draws with Malaysia and Indonesia sees the Philippines cement their third place ranking in Southeast Asian football. However, in the end, many were left underwhelmed by the Azkals’ performance and their inability to win against a weakened Indonesian side.


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