The Philippine Azkals last two assignments for the joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers this year ended in contrasting results to remain at third place in Group A of the joint qualifiers.
Behind Iain Ramsay at Patrick Strauss goals, the Azkals beat Maldives, 2-1 last November 14th at the National Stadium in Male, Maldives.
Ramsay found the back of the net in the 58th minute while Strauss scored in the 68th minute to get the full point from the home team. Hassan Naiz scored for Maldives in the third minute of stoppage time to end the game in a respectable way.
“It was a colourful, pointed and direct,” said Cooper via Inquirer.net . “There were no grey areas on the feelings expressed by players and I think anyone could have noticed that something must’ve happened at halftime just at the way they responded in the second half.”
Strauss added in the same article:’’I mean we can say two things about consistency: performance and result. This was purely about result.It’s a difficult place to play, it’s a hard stadium to play in. They (Maldives) were full of spirit. And it made it more difficult because our first half performance wasn’t up to the standard of the character of the team.’’
But the Azkals still have a hard time to beat Syria after absorbing a 1-0 loss, a few days later in Dubai, adding another heartbreak since the Azkals was also in the losing end via 5-2 decision to begin the joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers campaign last September .
Ward Al Salama scored the lone goal of the match in favor of the Syrians in the 23rd minute, denying an opportunity for the Azkals to move into the second spot in Group A and remained third in the Group A standings with seven points. If the Azkals got a draw or win the game, they leapfrogged China, which lost to the Syrians, 2-1, a few days ago.
“It hurts the most because that might be our best performance [in the competition so far],” said Cooper in another article of Inquirer.net.
“When you look at what we did to Syria in the second half, we made them look ordinary. We had three to four chances. We were fit and fresh. They were tired and desperate. That was a team that is top of the group and has World Cup aspirations and we are a team that 12 weeks ago, got smashed by them in Bacolod,” Cooper added.
The Azkals next assignment in the joint World and Asian Cup qualifiers is Guam, with the game will take place on March 26,2020 at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod, City.
Stephan Schrock eyes to boost U-22 team for SEA Games
The U-22 team is looking to add Philippine Azkals veteran Stephan Schrock to bolster the U-22 team line-up in the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games the country will host from November 30th to December 11th.
“Schrocky (Schrock’s nickname) has expressed interest to be part of the U-22 team as an over-aged player,” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami, who is also serving in the same capacity in the U-22 team told the Manila Bulletin.
Each teams are allowed to include two overage players to reinforce their team.
Schrock, who just won a PFL and Copa Paulino Alcantara titles for Ceres-Negros FC this year is already 33 years old but his experience on the local and international competitions is vital on guiding the young U-22 team, which is looking to clinch a podium finish in front of fellow countrymen.
Yrick Galantes, Justin Baas and Edison Suerti that also part of the U-22 pool, aside from the Azkals program are expected to make it to the 20-man line-up for the biennial meet.
The Philippines is on Group A along with the 2017 SEA Games men’s football silver medalist Malaysia, Cambodia at Timor-Leste.
The SEA Games men’s football competition will start on November 25th, four days earlier than the opening ceremony of the biennial meet and expected to end until December 10th with most games is set to take place in newly-renovated Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Azkals U-22 will face Cambodia to begin their Group A campaign on November 25th at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium