Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Only Option Left for the Azkals : WIN

This is it, folks. It all boils down to one more game for the Azkals. 90 minutes of football + injury time.

The table looks like this as of the moment. 

            W       D          L            Points       GD

PAL      1        1             0           4            +2     
BANG   1       0              1           3             0      
PHL      0        2             0           2              0     
MYA    0        1             1           1              -2     

The next game will be held March 25, Friday. And it will be held at the same time, to prevent collusion among teams.

25 March 2011 15:30
BANGLADESH - Philippines

25 March 2011 15:30

Things to note here :

1,) We will be playing in a different stadium, as Myanmar will be using its 'home' stadium. This may turn out to be a good thing for the Azkals. Can a change of stadium translate to a win in Myanmar?

2.) Kickoff times will be synchronized.

3.) Myanmar rooted to the bottom of the group. Let me rephrase, HOST Myanmar who, as rumor would have it, battled hard to get hosting rights, mired at the Bottom of Group A. Their very slim chance of progression consists of winning BIG against Palestine, and hoping we can only draw against Bangladesh. Meaning, their progress is beyond their control.

4.) Palestine have one foot on the door, as they need only to draw to qualify.

Scenarios for the Azkals to go through : 

A.) Azkals win. It doesn't get any simpler than that. We win, we will get 5 points, which will be good enough for at least second place. Whatever happens in the other game, we still go through.That is the most straightforward solution you can find.

Sample table : (Azkals win, Myanmar wins)

            W       D          L            Points       GD

PHL      1        2             0           5              
PLE      1        1             1           4            
MYA    1        1             1           4              
BANG   1       0              2           3             

Sample table : (Azkals win, Palestine wins)

            W       D          L            Points       GD

PLE      2        1             0           7            
PHL      1        2             0           5              

BANG   1       0              2           3             
MYA    0        1             2           1              

Sample table : (Azkals win, Palestine and Myanmar draw)

            W       D          L            Points       GD

PHL      1        2             0           5                   

PAL      1        2             0           5                 
BANG   1       0              2           3                   
MYA    0        2             1           2                   

B.) See Letter A. 

On the flipside, how would our opponents Bangladesh approach this game? 

They have three points to their credit now. If anything, their win against host Myanmar boosted their chances of qualifying, wherein a defeat to Myanmar would have eliminated them from contention (hence they might have taken it easy against us.)

Bangladesh cannot approach the game on Friday looking for a draw. Myanmar might win big in their game against Palestine, which would leave all three teams with 4 points each. Hence, they would be looking for the win against the Azkals, as well. A win would give them 6 points and guaranteed qualification.

Hence, on Friday, we will have two teams slugging it out for the win. The Azkals being the more desperate of the two, as for Bangladesh a draw might be enough for them. No less than a win for us will do.

What do we know about the Bangladesh team? 
Here is a great piece from The Football Palestine Blog :

Challenge Cup Squad: Bangladesh's senior side hasn't played an official match under newly appointed Croatian manager Robert Rubcic. Their last games were the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup finals where they shocked 2006 winner Tajikstan in the opening game only to lose their next two games. The Olympic side recently lost to Kuwait over two legs (0-2, 0-3) and that is where the majority of the players will be drawn from. Rubcic has had some sharp criticism for the older players omitted from the squad.

And a note on Bangladesh' key player : 

Key Player: It would seem that Bangladesh are in the midst of a rebuilding phase. Many of the experienced players included in the squad haven't been at their best with their clubs. The inclusion of many U23 players by Rubcic is an attempt to retain some chemistry in the side. Rubcic has admitted that the other sides in the group are much stronger than his and is expected to set his team up to play on the counter. If the team is to stand any chance of qualifying it will need its 23 year-old star and captain Mohammed Ameli to rediscover his form.
Time for Weiss to earn his euros, but also time for the Azkals to step up on Friday. 

I wonder what Coach Weiss' strategy would be. Bangladesh knows we need to win. They might set themselves up to hit us on the counter when we commit too many men forward. The Azkals Coaching staff have to get this right. More on tactical discussions soon.


On a side note, I am glad that these scenarios are presenting themselves, as this gives a crash course to all Azkal fans on how the group stages of football tournaments work.

Still on another side note, our only goalscorers Chris Greatwich and Phil Younghusband from the 2010 Suzuki Cup are unavailable for Friday. 

Who will take up the scoring cudgels for the team? 


  1. Why Chris and Phil are unavailable for Friday? Injuries or flags? Thanks.

    It was a tough game that Azkals has gone through. Don't really underestimate the other teams because like PHI has been doing to the football squad, they have also doing it for their team as well.

  2. Nice post, Ryan! Your blog needs to be shared.

  3. Rein : Phil is injured. Chris is unavailable due to work commitments.

    Ling : Please do share. Let's support Pinoy Football!

    Thanks for reading!