The Philippines snatched a point in Bacolod on Wednesday, and it was a well-deserved goal for a 1-1 draw with two-time defending champion Thailand in the ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
What did I like about this match?
The Philippines really took it to Thailand
From the opening whistle, it took the War Elephants precisely 1:45 to get out of their own half. The Philippines immediately threatened and, by match’s end, had more shots on goal than the defending champions, 11-4.
However, I should say that the decision-making in the final third could be improved. The Azkals seemed to dribble into a pocket of defenders and lose the ball. The Thais, on the other hand, were quick to move up the ball and take not of their attacks — there were a lot of wide open spaces; meaning our other defenders were not able to track back quickly.
Granted Thailand was missing key players, But they still took the maximum points from their first two matches to lead the group.
Stephan Schrock was once more A pest on the right flank, sending crosses time and again. Phil Younghusband, Patrick Reichelt and Daisuke Sato should have all scored. Manuel Ott had a nice inswinger that a friendly failed to head in.
Thailand obviously learned a thing or two from Singapore and tried to play as physical as they could. But three yellow cards in the first half forced them to behave.
A need to steady that midfield
After Thailand scored on that counter (Jaided Supachai on a blazing run to knock in that cross), I thought that the Philippines lost some discipline on the attack. They lost focus for a few minutes giving the Thais more cause to press their advantage. When the Philippines attacked, they were firing from the outside — ambitious if you ask me – instead of working the wings where Schrock was causing problems early on.
We still need that steadying and creative force in the central midfield when the crosses stop raining in from the flanks.
Luckily, there was that sub that changed what seemed like doom.
That magic 'bunot'
I wasn’t crazy about that sub that sent in Iain Ramsay. I felt that James Younghusband should have gone instead. But that move of putting in Jovin Bedic paid off. Talk about an instant impact. Turn then fire. Goal.
Although from Iloilo, Bedic played his college football in Bacolod so this was massive for him to score in front of a crowd that has cheered for him time and again.
I was surprised that the Azkals were a little cautious towards the end. Instead of pressing their advantage, they chose to be more pragmatic on defense. I can understand — make sure we go home with a point. But still . . . I thought that the Philippines generally played better defense and owned ball possession (of course the latter doesn’t guarantee a win).
You can see the quality in that Thai side
Missing stars aside, the Thais are good. Not great because they missed their studs up front who are more than a handful. However, they remain quick on the counter and don’t dribble too much in and around the box. Notice how when the Philippines attacks, their defense is usually set. When they attack, they’ve got wide open spaces.
Although I thought that the Philippine should have gotten a win, a 1-1 draw against this side is still a good result. The Azkals have to come away feeling much better than the Thais did who should feel like their survived. The confidence of the Filipinos should soar in time for their next match.
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