By Cheska D. Geli
LOCAL coaches commended the performance of the Philippine national football team and expressed confidence the Azkals can still do more in their succeeding matches.
The Azkals swept Sri Lanka, 4-0, Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, advancing to the second round on aggregate, 5-1.
“They had well-defined plays and they had patience in executing them, unlike in the first game when they never had good setup plays,” said Abellana National School football coach Francis Ramirez.
University of Southern Philippines Foundation coach and Cebu Football Association board member Eleazar Toledo agreed with Ramirez and added the Azkals’ backline was compact, which made it hard for the opposing side to create plays.
“Wala’y chance ang Sri Lanka maka collapse sa backline kay lig-on kaayo,” said Toledo.
The Azkals defense, anchored on Alexander Borromeo, Rob Gier, Paul Mulders and Anton del Rosario, scored a fifth straight shutout in a home game for the Philippines.
“Clearly, in their last game they had some perfectly executed plays where it showed that they were not in a hurry and they had maximized the field,” said Ramirez, who picked midfielder Stephen Shrock as the key player in last Sunday’s game.
Azkals will face Kuwait in the next round, a more experienced team with professional players who had been in the squad for a long time.
“It’s a strong team but beatable,” said Toledo.
Both coaches agree that the Azkals should work harder in tightening their defense against a Kuwait side that is used to fast plays.
“Lig-on ang kontra so dapat mulevel up pud ta,” said Ramirez.
Toledo said that Kuwait has taller players but the Azkals can compete with them.
“The first leg is an away game so they should fight hard against them,” said Toledo,
who added he was impressed by the composure shown by Angel Aldeguer.Published in Sun.Star Cebu