MANILA, Philippines - The Chicago Inferno showed how much work the Philippine Azkals still need to reach top form as the American club nipped the visiting squad, 3-1, in an exhibition match at Wheaton College’s Joe Bean Stadium in Wheaton, Illinois Saturday night.
Pouncing on the Azkals’ sloppy defense, the Inferno seized an early 3-0 lead, with Carl Haworth knocking it in off a lousy clearance by Phl defender Jason Sabio in the seventh and Drew Jeskey extricating for a pair of strikes in the 14th and 33rd.
Playing more compact on defense and utilizing more combo from midfield to forward in the second half, the Azkals somehow got into rhythm and put one in the board, courtesy of Crali de Murga’s 73rd minute connection off Patrick Reichelt’s delivery from the left side.
“Nobody wants to lose, but if in losing this game we are able to learn valuable lessons that we could use in the next game or tournament, then I can say, in perspective, the test match was good for us,” said Palami, whose team is using the US tour as buildup for the AFF Suzuki Cup in November.
“That was a superb test for us,” said Azkals coach Michael Weiss. “This is a different team again. New players coming and players coming back It always takes some time. It’s not supposed to be an excuse but it’s the way it is.”
Weiss made do with what he has in the roster filled with huge holes in the backline. Regular midfielders Jason de Jong and Jeff Christiaens were tapped to join Sabio and Carli de Murga in defense.
With this “makeshift” back four bogged by the high press, tight defending of the physical Inferno, the Azkals were forced to play long ball in the opening half.
“We lacked discipline and movement in the first half. Also I made a bad clearance resulting in a goal. We bounced back second half though,” said Sabio.
Coming off the halftime break, Weiss sent in fresh legs like Reichelt and Fil-Ams Demitrius Omphroy and Matthew Uy and the Azkals cranked it up on defense.