We only need to finish second in our group to get a shot at the semifinal knockout match. The tough teams in our group are Vietnam and Myanmar. However, the other teams such as Brunei, Laos and Timor Leste shouldn't be underestimated also. Those other teams have also been working hard as we have to beef up their squads and make them more competitive. Nonetheless, there is a glorious opportunity here and every Filipino football supporter is hoping our U23 can make a very good showing at this tournament. Let's keep in mind that these U23 players in 3-4 years time will be forming the core of the senior team, the Azkals.
Well, our first match in the group is against Vietnam, the group favorites. By now everyone knows the result of this match so here's my take on it. We lost 3-1 after leading 0-1 going into the second half. Disappointing at first glance but after having calmed down and allowed reason to ease back into my mind as my heart beat slows down and gets steadier, I don't think it wasn't too bad a result. Mainly because if the Vietnamese weren't so wasteful with their chances and if not for the goal line heroics of Roland Muller, it would have been embarrassing.
Our boys somehow seemed to lack a bit spark, the Vietnamese looked livelier and quicker to the ball than our team. My husband was livid with our defense so this seemed to be an area that required improvement. You could see that the Vietnamese have been playing together for some time compared to our players. There was a fluidity in the Vietnamese game that was lacking in our team's offense and defense.
Roland Muller was impressive again just like in his debut for the national team in the Long Teng Cup. However, I would rather prefer that he have less to do in the succeeding matches. Come on defense, we know Roland is quality so no more need of presenting him opportunities of showing us what he can do. It's your turn now defense, midfield and forwards to show us what you guys got. I know you've got in you to step up your game.
An unfortunate mistake leading to an own goal led to the Vietnamese equalizer. You could say it just evened things out as we also kind of rode on our luck when the Vietnamese hit the bar and wasted some pretty good chances at goal. This lucky turn of event probably led the Vietnamese to further step up their game and clinch the full three points. All in all, I think the Vietnamese deserved their victory, they worked for it and they got it.
Anyway, we are still in it. Four matches still up ahead and against teams probably not as formidable as Vietnam, so can't complain really and every reason to be optimistic. We got a young team and they haven't had much time to train together either, so there is definitely still room for improvement down the line. The next match is still four days away, that affords our players needed recovery time and opportunity to further work on cohesion and addressing issues.
Come on guys! You can do it!
Come on guys! You can do it!
So until the next match...