Thursday, February 7, 2013

Azkals win friendly vs. Myanmar


Source : GMA News

OJ Porteria drove in for a goal at the 77th minute as the Azkals won on Myanmar soil for the first time, 1-0, Wednesday.

It was the 18-year-old Virginia native's second goal for the Azkals. The first goal came just last September, when the Philippines played Chinese Taipei at the Rizal Stadium.

A goalless first half where Myanmar had the edge creating several chances on the left wing, raised questions of Weiss’ selection to start Manny Ott at right back. Myanmar continued their dominance in the second half and fashioned several more chances, with Etheridge keeping the Azkals in the game on a couple of occasions.

Then out of nowhere, OJ Porteria struck from distance and the ball swerved away from the keeper to wrongfoot the Burmese and put the Azkals in front in the 77th minute. Substitute Ian Araneta had a goal chalked off for offside as Myanmar were stunned from the goal and couldn’t get back into the game.

First half

The pitch was impeccable but the same couldn’t be said of Myanmar’s provisions for the game with choppy TV coverage and no-one knowing the names of the Burmese players. As such, their players will typically be referred to by their numbers below.

In the 12th minute, Chieffy Caligdong’s cross from the left was lifted over the Burmese defense, but Patrick Reichelt’s touch went wide from a tight angle. A minute later, Myanmar had a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring as a cross from the right swept over the Azkals’ line, finding their left back at the back post totally unmarked. Taking a touch to control, Myanmar's #3 lifted it well over the bar with Neil Etheridge rushing out, but it was a great opportunity for Myanmar to take the lead in their capital.

It was a sign of things to come as Myanmar continued to look the more dangerous side as they again broke the Azkals’ line, but this time it was their #7 who found himself with a shooting opportunity at the back post. Fortunately for the Azkals, he could only find Neil Etheridge’s hands from ten yards out as Myanmar continued to break down the right side of the Azkals.

In the 17th minute, Rob Gier slid across to prevent the ball from reaching the man free at the back post as the makeshift defense continued to look fragile. In the 20th minute Kyaw Ko Ko lifted a cross over the bar as he beat his man for pace to get on the end of the cross, with the Azkals offering little in response.

The young Burmese side continued to get the better of the Azkals. As Kyaw Ko Ko tried to wriggle his way through too many defenders, the ball fell kindly on the rebound for their #11, again on the Azkals’ right side, but he couldn’t hit the target once more.

Myanmar was continually exploiting the right back slot. Time and time again, they exploited Manny Ott who was playing out of position. Drifting forward, as is his normal style in midfield, Myanmar’s diagonal balls continually found a home, and the lax marking gave them the chances, but they lacked the finish to go in front in the first forty five minutes.

Second half

The second half began as the first finished, with Myanmar again exploiting the defensive frailties of the Azkals. In the 58th minute, Myanmar crossed towards the penalty spot, and the oncoming midfielder volleyed the ball in the opposite direction Etheridge was moving, but the keeper managed to stick out a foot to deflect the ball wide in the best chance of the game up to that point

Frustrated, the Azkals started to lash out. Neil Etheridge pushed Kyaw out of the way as he was blocking the keeper's path to take the free-kick, before Patrick Reichelt flattened his man tussling for the ball to the jeers of the crowd. It brought some life to the Azkals, though, who saw Chieffy shoot at the keeper when fed by Phil Younghusband in the 61st minute, before Manny Ott received the first yellow card of the game bringing his man down twenty five yards from goal.

Soon after, Ian Araneta came on for Chieffy Caligdong as the Philippines looked to switch their style. Myanmar made a substitution soon after in response and continued to dominate, but Etheridge made another good save when they broke through. Their forward burst past the Azkals’ backline drilling the ball towards goal, but Etheridge palmed the ball away with both hands, agonizingly out of the reach of the following up forward before their #16 blasted the ball high and wide running through.

Then in the 77th minute, OJ Porteria struck to put the Azkals in an unlikely lead. Picking the ball up on the left wing, he beat his man, cut inside, and shot from distance. The ball swerved wickedly to wrongfoot the goalkeeper who had been mostly inactive during the game, putting the Azkals in front.

The goal sparked the Philippines back into life. And despite coming against the run of play, the Azkals almost doubled the lead moments later when Ian Araneta was put through and slotted past the keeper but was caught offside.

In injury time, OJ Porteria fashioned another chance and perhaps should have scored from inside the area rather than flashing wide. With Ian Araneta open in space, the miss would have proved costly if Myanmar were more clinical earlier in the game. But the Azkals wound down the clock with Marwin Angeles coming off for his twin brother Marvin and Myanmar firing over in the last seconds of the game.

First Philippine victory against home Myanmar side

The win gives the Azkals’ their first victory of 2013 and their first victory against a home Myanmar side. Making it two wins in a row against Myanmar, those two consecutive victories are the Azkals’ only victories over their South East Asian rival.

The Azkals will look to use the last ten minutes of this game as momentum into the Challenge Cup qualifiers. With Coach Weiss’ contract still in negotiations, the Philippines will be looking to hold another couple of friendlies before the Qualifiers in March.

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