ANOTHER GOAL. This one did not escape from Azkals' goalie Neil Etheridge. Pinoyfootball.com photo by Mark del Valle
by Mark del Valle
NEW YORK —THE Azkals have a month to figure things out and get their unfortunate loss Uzbekistan behind and become stronger from here.
That match pointed out certain things that the lads have to work out for the future.
1.) They mere mortals; they live, they learn. Our boys need to brush this moment off and understand that this is one setback in what has become a strong campaign for them.
Obviously, the Azkals have been built from minnows to contenders. The path to greatness is not easy, but in football, anything can happen. "Keep your chin up!", said one supporter as the team came to the dugouts after half time.
2.) The players need to play their natural positions once again. The key to neutralizing us, according to the Uzbekistani camp is to make Phil useless.
They really did not do so, but Phil ended up volunteering himself to it by playing very deep. He is a threat up front, and should remain that way to be an impact player.
So does Woodland, and Schrock, Palla, and Ramsay. What ever happened to Alvaro Silva? The towering centerback for Daejeon Citizen? He would have been a good player to include in the lineup, especially with the loss of Gier and Rota.
3.) Playing at the PSS is not a mistake, especially with the weather. Last year, we played the 2014 Peace Cup in a rain bogged Rizal Memorial. It was so bad, they had to delay the game.
The Uzbekistan game was not just rainy, but also, stormy. There were constant lightning strikes around the stadium and the rain was pouring really hard. Yet the 7,500 who came to watch were all dry and still to enjoyed the match, instead of scampering for a shade.
What I want to highlight, however is the lack of support for our fans, and also to those groups that has continuously had our back throughout the years.
The Ultras Filipinas and the Kaholeros. I respecfully ask the PFF and PSS an urgent need to revisit their rules to accommodate these folks, just as much as you accommodated, and were hospitable to the Uzbekistan fans with their drums, or the Myanmar team last year with their flag.
These groups have pressed their presence to our visiting teams, that even during last year’s Peace Cup, the Palestinian team went to the Ultras and thanked them for coming, as they knew that these people were in to support their club, not as feared hooligans, but as a community of supporters.
We had people coming in from Pangasinan, Leyte, Cebu, Cagayan. The last they need is not to be able to come because of a banner which display their love for the national team, or be stuck in Trinoma because they had to choose whether they use the money to pay for the buses or for tonight and tomorrow’s meals.
The prices may end up becoming a factor in the future matches, in terms of how many people will take time to do the "pilgrimage.”
Talking about packing the stadium, Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo and the members of the Iglesia ni Cristo should be invited to watch the Azkals play at the stadium they have built.
If they could fill EDSA and create horrendous traffic why can’t they fill the Philippine Stadium against Yemen, and also our other future fixtures.
3.) We need to give Thomas Dooley the benefit of the doubt with sticking to his 343/541. We all ask why he did this or did another, but we also have to realize the limitations of the team.
Misagh got marked heavily, and so did Patino (at times having 3, 4 players surrounding him). If played in any other way, we may either win, draw, or lose. This is football, and anything can happen, just as Dooley always loves to say.
Remember the Azkals were looking forward to the Uzbeks match to test skills and and compare their capabilities against a stronger team.
The Azkals still played to their capabilities, but definitely with lower morale and added pressure after the first 48 seconds of the game.
In the end, the early goal cost us the match, but never the hearts of the players and the love of the Azkal Nation. MDV