The Azkals suck

I didn’t expect much from the Azkals against Malaysia, given that it’s our first since the Suzuki Cup but I surely didn’t expect such disappointment. I know friendlies are supposed to be time for an experiment but if that was an experiment, what are we supposed to achieve?

I don’t know. Sometimes I feel the lack of criticisms in mainstream media against the team has made some of the players think just because they showed up, we should appreciate them.

A 2-0 loss to open the 2022 campaign.

And what’s with the coaching changes? It seems everytime I see the Azkals on TV, we have a new coach. To be honest, I was surprised to see Coach Ernie Nierras in the sideline. No, I’m not questioning his capabalities, I was literally surprised because I never saw an announcement of a change in coach.

If Coach Ernie will be handling the team until the Asian Cup qualifiers, I wish him well and let’s all support him. If there’s another coaching change next month, what’s the whole point? As to the first half, lethargic would have been too good a word to describe the team.

The defense? It seems they were thinking, “We have a Championship League” keeper, surely you can’t score. Jeez, Neil Etheridge may be the best in Southeast Asia, but he isn’t superman. Leaving guys wide open at that, giving Malaysia that chance to test their mettle against a Championship keeper, Oh’ they’ll take it.

Malaysia’s second goal was their fourth shot on goal, which were all on target.

We could barely get the ball to the Malaysia box. The players had to exert extra effort to keep possession to make a pass. That contrast was made more obvious when Malaysia had possession and three or four passes later, they had us backpedaling in our box.

The last time the fans in the country followed a national team was the Malditas’ World Cup qualifying stint. Do you know what I remember about that, aside from the record of course? It was how the Malditas communicated the whole 90 minutes. You could hear them talk non-stop. Though I turned down the volume in the Malaysia game, it was pretty obvious the players weren’t talking, losing possession because nobody bothered to say man behind.

I remember a couple of Suzuki Cups back, when we got eliminated in the semifinals, again, Patrick Reichelt had a few scathing remarks against teammates who seemed contented with a semis stint.

It may be just me, but after that Malaysia game, the worst showing in years by an Azkal squad, I feel the whole team—players, coaching staff, management and even the PFF—deserves that kind of scolding.

Of course we’ll keep the faith, we’ll trust the process as the cliché goes. But man, I hope the other side gives us something for that trust and faith. Because right now, the Azkals suck.

One reply on “The Azkals suck”

It’s been over ten years after the sport’s resurgence. Once that squad’s mainstays retired, I feel like we’ve been weighed down by a few big question marks – who actually makes up the Azkals’ core team? What is our actual formation, our playing style? Why not just have a core team to work with throughout the year, and then invite big names playing abroad if the schedule allows? If FIFA dates don’t match, maybe don’t force it.

I’d take a team with solid players that trains and plays together for months, over a big-name lineup that just came in a week or so before competition. Our Women’s national team just proved this. With our new technical director, I hope this could finally be addressed. Otherwise, I fear more disappointing campaigns in the future, especially at the fast-improving ASEAN level – even Timor Leste is looking really strong these days.

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