27 September 2012

Azkals Turn on the Style in 5-Star Win over Macau in Peace Cup

When it rains, it pours. With the opening day jitters well and truly expunged from the Philippine Azkals, who barely managed to eke out a victory over a plucky but ultimately limited Guamanian team, it was almost inevitable that Macau would be at the receiving end of a hiding.

For the Azkals, against Guam the method was sound; but the result undistinguished. Against Macau, the method was better; and, consequently, the result was electrifying! The Philippines were not good. It was very good! Nay, excellent even!

Macau, perhaps, accorded the Philippines too much respect; of the sort that the cheeky Guamanians were not quite prepared to give their hosts, the chasm in FIFA rankings notwithstanding.


Such was the enthusiasm of the Philippine team that, late in the game when Macau finally won some decent possession, the players had the discipline to get behind the ball to protect Eduard SacapaƱo’s goal. The latter was practically a spectator, so complete was his team’s domination of proceedings.
Whilst Guam was prepared to get into the Philippines’ faces – often petty-fouling to disrupt the flow of the game – Macau stood back, almost as though loathing of the physical side of the beautiful game.

Given acres of space, particularly in midfield, the Philippines responded by knocking the ball about with patience and precision; looking not unlike a well-drilled European club side tempting the opposition to come and get it.

The controlled football emanated from the back, where coincidentally Carli de Murga and Jason de Jong were actually midfielders cloaked as defenders and, therefore, both comfortable with the ball.

And while the backline had a decidedly European flavour to it, the fulcrum who stitched together the intricate passing was made where else but – Alicia Keys would ask – in New York.

Matthew Uy, who played for the United States at youth level, sat just above the two central defenders to not only protect them but also to orchestrate the moves from deep in midfield, all the while keeping his game simple and intelligent.

Unlike against Guam, when the chances were being routinely created but just as routinely wasted, against Macau there were end products – five of them!

Dennis Wolf, who scored with a sensational diving header in an earlier friendly against Malaysia but who had struggled to find the net since, found form at the most appropriate occasion with a finely taken hattrick.

First, in the 21st minute, he latched on to an inch-perfect pass from Demetrius Omphroy and slammed the ball in from a reasonably difficult angle. The Macau goalkeeper got a hand to it but was beaten by the pace of the ball.

Just before halftime, Wolf took advantage of a goalmouth scramble to create space for a left-footed shot. The goal, perhaps, was scrappy; but significantly, it gave the Philippines the cushion to relax and play more expansively.

Indeed, in the second half, the team played with the freedom and abandon of a training ground scrimmage.

Marwin Angeles, probably better known for his good work in the middle of the park, after the restart suddenly chose to give a demonstration of what he is capable of farther up the pitch.

In the 47th minute, the ball broke to him and he forced the Macau goalkeeper into a save with a fierce drive. A minute later, he received the ball ten yards to the right of goal, feinted to come inside and then drove another fierce left-footed shot that the goalkeeper could only parry.

From the rebound, de Murga – who had sprinted forward from deep in midfield – scored the Philippines’ third with a classy finish that any striker would have been proud of.

Wolf was not to be denied his hattrick, however. In the 63rd minute, Omphroy intercepted a lazy pass from a Macau defender and unselfishly squared the ball for Wolf to tap in. It was game, set and match; but the Philippines were not quite through yet.

Just five minutes later, the teenager OJ Porteria received a short corner on the right, wove inside past two defender and cut the ball back for Patrick Reichelt – hero of the opening day Guam encounter – to score his second of the tournament.

Such was the enthusiasm of the Philippine team that, late in the game when Macau finally won some decent possession, the players had the discipline to get behind the ball to protect Eduard SacapaƱo’s goal. The latter was practically a spectator, so complete was his team’s domination of proceedings.

When the referee blew the final whistle, the result meant that the Philippines sits top of the four-team table with six points and in an excellent position to win its first international trophy in decades. Chinese-Taipei, who earlier won over Guam, is second with four points.

The Philippines only needs a draw from its final match on Saturday against Chinese-Taipei to win the Peace Cup. The country also enjoys a vastly superior goal difference.











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RELATED STORIES:
Azkals in Narrow Win Over Guam in Peace Cup
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