Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Chelsea Soccer School: Hot fun in the summertime

The Chelsea Soccer School: Hot fun in the summertime*
by rick olivares

The football pitch at Tribeca in Alabang isn’t the well-manicured ones the three English lads are used to. But it’s not too bad either.

“It’s a start,” said Andy Ottley whose smile was infectious despite the oppressive heat.

“It’s at three degrees back home (in England) so I am not complaining,” he added.

Along with Kane Cowburn and Russell Baryard, the three representatives from Chelsea FC’s International Development Foundation are in Manila to conduct a three-day camp for young footballers. The camp is held at the Tribeca where 60 young boys are divided into morning and afternoon sessions.

It’s a “reunion” of sorts for Ottley and James and Phil Younghusband who were all youth players at Chelsea years ago. Ottley eventually moved to Fulham where he met Neil Etheridge who himself also got a start with Chelsea’s Youth Academy. “I remember the brothers scoring goals against us and I’d go, ‘Ah, they got us again.’”

The three are in the Philippines to spot talent for the London club but to help develop the grassroots structure in the Philippines. If some of these talents blossom into top local players who also go on to play for the national team then they could possibly bear some looking into.

Now on its second year in operation in the Philippines as a partnership with the Younghusband Football Academy and the Loyola Meralco Sparks Youth Academy, the Chelsea Soccer School Philippines is the sixth soccer school opened outside the famed club’s London headquarters. “We’re here to not only train kids but also the coaches,” explained Ottley. “We’ll be back to oversee their continuous development. It’s not a one-off.”

Assisting in the camp are some of the Younghusband’s colleagues with Loyola – goalkeepers Ref Cuaresma and Junior De Murga and assistant coaches Gil Talavera and Dang Cecilio – who all do some teaching as well. And the participants all plunge into every activity and every drill with a lot of gusto.

“It’s good to know that the football scene in the Philippines is growing because that will impact the youth,” added Baryard. “They have something to aspire for. They see the good senior footballers playing and that inspires them.”

The three Chelsea coaches took in the two matches of the Philippine Men’s Football National Team in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers the past week. “It was fun,” laughed Cowburn.

“We saw a bit of everything!” added Ottley. “We saw a lot of goals! We saw the power go out, the rain come crashing down, a flooded pitch, a fantastic atmosphere, ecstatic fans, lots. At one point, we all said, ‘We’ve seen everything except a red card.’ And then Phil goes on to get one…”

In the three-day camp, the three stress that football has to be fun. “If it’s fun, you will have no problem teaching,” underscored Cowburn. “And it’s been an eventful, fun, and learning camp so far.”

From the looks of it, it also works the other way around because the three Englishmen are learning and loving Philippine culture as well.


* "Hot fun in the summertime" is a song from Sly & the Family Stone. I love that song.

Additional reading: Turkmenistan floors Loyola 

Ref Cuaresma developed an English accent during the three-day camp.

With Andy Ottley, Kane Cowburn, and Russell Baryard.

Turkmenistan floors Loyola 4-1

Pardon the pun of the title. And sorry, Ref! One of my favorite goalkeepers takes a nap about an hour before the match at the Emperador Stadium turf. Long day for Ref Cuaresma as he had two coaching clinics in the morning and afternoon with the Chelsea Soccer School. Also helping out were Junior de Murga and Loyola assistants Gil Talavera and Dang Cecilio. Great time to inteview Ref as he had developed an English accent. There are now six Fil-Brits in Loyola. Hahahaha

Turkmenistan floors Loyola 4-1
by rick olivares

Thursday March 28, 2013
Emperador Stadium

UFL Thursday?

It had the atmosphere of it as some 400 fans were on hand for a Maundy Thursday friendly between Loyola and Turkmenistan.

This came about when Turkmenistan followed Loyola in practice sometime during the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers. As their match with Brunei didn’t push through, they were eager to play one more match. After watching Loyola’s practice, they extended the invitation. The Sparks management and coaching staff discussed the invite with the players who all agreed to do this.

Working as “match commissioner” we got both sides to agree to an open substitution with no extra time to be played.

The Green Men attacked from the opening whistle as Loyola couldn’t get its midfield established. I thought that Loyola played their defense much like they did against Kaya in their recent tussle – a lot of players committing to ball side then quickly switching out to help on the weak side when the ball was swung the other way. That meant the defensive over shift was on the left side of Turkmenistan. That left two attackers on Roxy Dorlas’ side.

At first Dorlas almost by his lonesome stopped the incursions (with some help from the Hartmanns). That got Loyola’s offense going and had Turkmenistan backpedalling. One sequence foreshadowed Loyola’s goal.

In the seventh minute, off a steal in the midfield by Jeong Byeong Yeol, he quickly passed to Mark Hartmann in the middle of the park. Hartmann found his brother Matthew on the overlap but he quickly darted towards the middle drawing a crowd of three defenders. Dorlas was running up the left flank and Hartmann sent it his way where he was unmarked. Dorlas sent a long cross towards the second post where Jeong had cut in. The Korean fired but it was just wide.

In the 12th minute, off a quick counter, Chad Gould raced up the right flank drawing a crowd. He saw Jeong once more coming in unmarked and he passed it off. Jeong fired as the ball struck into the top right corner for a Loyola goal.

The Sparks pressed their advantage against the shocked Green Men and they nearly doubled their lead but Matthew Hartmann’s shot went straight to the keeper.

Turkmenistan could not get going from the left side where Loyola’s best defense. It is ironic considering this area used to be their porous side. The Green Men then went back to probing the right flank where Dorlas oft remained by himself.

Turkmenistan’s play (at least for 14 of their 15 shots) called for three players -- #2 Irazalyyev, #10 Abylov, and #17 Amanov to work a sideline triangle. Samyradov would cut in to the middle to provide back up support for Amanov who cuts to the middle. It sure looked like a play as they ran it all the time while constantly testing Loyola’s defense.

In the 37th minute, they worked this play to perfection with Amanov dropping the ball over Park Min Ho for Samyradov. Samyradov went one-on-one with Ref Cuaresma for the equalizer.

Both teams went into the half tied at one goal apiece.

In the second half, the game coincidentally turned after Chad Gould went out for Alex Elnar. By then, the Green Men attacked that right side with purpose. Turkmenistan, save for Sayramov’s goal, couldn’t get inside because of the strong defensive line. So they attacked the “soft” area between Loyola’s back four and their midfield. Fourteen of their 15 shots on goal came from the center and just outside the box.

Annasahedov scored in the 73rd minute from the same play to give the visitor’s the lead. Loyola had a couple of opportunities to level the match but Jake Morallo, Matthew Hartmann, and Park Min Ho all hit their shots straight at keeper Nikita Gorbunov.

Then five minutes later, the Green Men broke the game wide open with a goal from late sub Gahrymanberdi Conkayev. Their only shot not from the outside of the box was a curving boot from 25 yards out by Abylov to make it 4-1 in the 80th minute as Loyola succumbed to the late pressure from the #140th ranked side in the world. They had played a perfect 72 minutes until the defense gave way. Nevertheless it was a good experience for them.

Both squads had their group picture taken after the match.

LoyolaRef Cuaresma (GK), Roxy Dorlas, Park Min Ho, Rodrigue Nembot, PJ Fadrigalan, Jeong Byeong Yeol, Simon Greatwich, Mark Hartmann, Matthew Hartmann, Jang Joo Won, and Chad Gould.

Substitutes: Jake Morallo, Alex Elnar, Jason Cutamora, Pat Ozaeta, and Armand del Rosario.

Injured: Phil Younghusband, Jang Jo Won, Mark Sorongon

TurkemistanNikita Gorbunov (GK), Nursahet Sapargyljyov, Berdi Samyradov, Annasahet Annasahedov, Guwanc Abylov, Gurbangeldi Batyrov, Dowran Orazalyyev, Wladimir Bayramov, Parahat Jumanazarov, Farhad Italmazov, and Serdar Annaorazov.

Substitutes: Bahtyyar Hojaahmedov, David Sarkisov, Arslanmyrat Amanov, and Gahrymanberdi Conkayev.

Match stats
Shot attempts:
Turkmenistan 16
Loyola 12

Shots on goal
Turkmenistan: 8
Loyola 8

Turkmenistan: 7
Loyola: 4

I find it ridiculous that the crabs have come out again questioning why Loyola played Turkmenistan and why not blah blah. The simple truth of the matter is Turkmenistan asked. Take a cold shower you yahoos.

Read my thoughts on the Philippines-Turkmenistan match in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers.

Love this cool new Kevin Durant & Dwyane Wade new commercial

Love this cool new television advert from Gatorade featuring Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Frontline: In the trenches covering Philippine Football with Jack Biantan, Cecil Quimlat, Mike Limpag, Eduard Smit, Cedelf Tupas and me

Frontline: In the trenches covering Philippine Football

In the early years of the new millennium there were very few football writers in the country. There was the groundbreaking and late with Jack Biantan and the late Eduard Smit. There was radio broadcaster Cecil Quimlat who always made it a point to be where the action is. Then guys like Mike Limpag and Cedelf Tupas came up covering the beautiful game.

This is our story.

Jack Biantan is a graduate of University of San Jose-Recoletos who migrated to England. He put up pinoysoccer and would come over to cover matches by the national team.
I covered AFC Challenge Cup elimination tournament in Iloilo city for the now defunct in Iloilo in 2008.

There was a typhoon during the week so the pitches in Iloilo city and Barotac Nuevo were all soaking wet. They were worse than what happened to Rizal in the recent game against Cambodia.

There was no Facebook and Twitter then. There was even no wifi in the or  internet connection in the venues and there was only one computer in the Iloilo City Sports Center and that was hugged by one person who was supposed to be the media person of the PFF.

Anyway the Azkals then were not as strong as this current batch. There were very few international players then. I remember Chad Gould and Neil Etheridge who was only 18 then. Armand del Rosario was also in that line-up.

It was during the time of that fat useless bloke running the PFF. What stuck in my mind during that coverage was not the action in the pitch but the politicking around the PFF during that time.

I pitied Nonoy Fegidero who was supposed to be the coach of the Azkals. He was undermined by his superiors and was no given a freehand in selection of players.

Nonoy replaced Cuto but the Spaniard was in the bench all the time acting as if he was the head coach.

It is really good for the PFF to hire a foreign coach this time because nobody could dictate them.

I had an argument with that fat useless bloke running the PFF. Actually two arguments. First was when he questioned the Azkals name. He did not like the name and wanted to replace it. I had to tell him the history of the name and explained the source of the name in our website.

He then kept quiet and never questioned the name again. Maybe that was the reason why he refused to pay my hotel bills.

Before I left for England for that coverage, I asked him if the PFF could at least pay for my hotel bills. I would be spending a fortune for my trip and I was going to hire and feed a cameraman.

He agreed to pay for my board and lodging. So I set my return to the Philippines during the tournament dates. The night before I left for CDO, I politely gave him the receipt which was only P8000. He refused to read them and said he would not pay them.

From then on I realized I was dealing with a crook. Then I decided to campaign for his ouster. It took two more years before he was ousted. Now at least there are good people running the PFF.

Mike Limpag, Cebu Sun Star, went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu.

I first wrote about the national team back in 2000, when a couple of Cebuanos made the roster. I think it was during the 2002 World Cup qualifiers and I remember following the games online. That time, I called the PFF president and he said he was conceding all but one home games due to lack of funds. (That's something that's no longer an option now.) Fast forward to 2006, after a 4-1 win over Brunei when we badly needed a win after losing to Laos, Coach Aris Caslib was stumped when he was asked when the last time the Philippines scored that many goals.

The next game, Phil came up with three (or was it four) against Timor Leste and I thought "This is a once in a lifetime event." Seven years later, it happened again.

In 2006, the media center was a lonely place. I think it was only Cedelf Tupas who had a laptop, and there was only one PC. Hehehe. I had an office laptop, but I didn't bring that ancient Toshiba, lest I die of shame, to the media center. After one press con, I'd steal the lone PC from the AFF media officer who was using it for 10 or so minutes to send story. Those were great times.

When I started. I had a difficult time getting the PFF's side of things, especially on controversies. After yet another story that had "Sun Star Cebu" I tried to contact the PFF for a comment. I faxed the damn page with the line, "This sir, is why you need to answer my call so I can get your side." I didn't have any trouble after that.

Cecil Quimlat, Radio Broadcaster, DZSR ( A graduate of Centro Escolar University who loves sports)
It is always tough to cover  Pinoy football, on a personal perspective  because I lack knowledge in  the  technical aspect of the game.  But I was given a football program to produce so I had to do it. Along the way, I met people who showed a lot of passion and love for the sport and I guess that's what started it all.

I have been producing a  football show for radio since 2002. I learn to love the sport and develop this commitment to help in my own little way because of these people (coaches and athletes) who are willing to commit themselves to football with nothing in return.

I started to know  the sport in  2002 --- when Japan and South Korea co-hosted the World Cup.  I was amazed how football fans in the country gathered  and enjoyed watching the games.  And that time, DZSR decided to put up a football radio program through the initiative of the then POC president Cristy Ramos. The rest is history.

Eduard Smit, (as told by his older brother Hans Peter Smit) went to La Salle Greenhills before studying abroad. Eduard wrote a column in called “Offside and Other Certainties”.
Eduard Smit once played for Magnolia and UTex in the old commercial leagues of the 1970s before leaving for the United States where he worked for JC Penney. He continued to write about football even while based in the United States. He wrote about everything – the Philippine Men’s Football National Team, the English Premier League, the UAAP, etc. He did so until his health worsened. Smit passed away in 2011.

Cedelf Tupas (reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer) went to the University of St. La Salle Bacolod. He also currently does analysis for the UFL games on AKTV.
I started covering football with the U23 Azkals in 2005 in the SEA games in Bacolod. The core of this team made up the 2010 side with Phil, James, Aly, Chieffy and Ian there in that squad. The media center was packed then because it was the SEA games and that was the first time in awhile that we fielded a team. Coverage was fun. I was always near (the Cebu Sun Star’s) Mike Limpag but never beside him. After the coverage though was the fun part where me and other fans, including Graeme McKinnon would all meet up at Draft to share stories about the team.

The following year was the Asean Championship qualifiers. I was interim sports editor of Daily Star and I would devote an entire page about the tournament and the team. Access to the team was easy with coach Aris Caslib but I always loved the feeling that players appreciated efforts of promoting the sport as they never failed to express gratitude for what we in the local media in Bacolod were doing.

It’s funny that Mike mentioned that I was the only one with a laptop back in 2006. I had no choice because there was only one computer. I remember Mike, Cecil Quimlat, Noli Cortez of Malaya also there as well as the late Henry Villalva. It was a small group.

Since I already covered the qualifiers and the Philippines advanced to Bangkok, I used my savings to buy a plane ticket so I can watch and cover the matches there. I asked for help from PFF if perhaps I can get help with hotel. Our paper wasn’t spending for anything and I really wanted to cover because the team was already popular in Bacolod. The PFF said they had no budget for it. Still I went on with my trip, covered the first match versus Malaysia at Supachalasai where Aly Borromeo got injured. Malaysia scored on a bicycle kick goal that made CNN play of the day. I would visit the hotel everyday to do interviews and had my stories printed on PDI. The only consolation from the trip was the fighting draw against Myanmar. This was really the first time I saw first hand that resilience of the team. Watching Alvin Ocampo fighting for every ball and getting crucial tackles and Michael Casas keeping out every Burmese shot was amazing. These were moments that convinced me to keep writing with the hope that sooner or later everyone else would take notice and follow suit.

Rick Olivares (Business Mirror,,, Went to Ateneo de Manila University. Does a lot of work for different companies.
In 2006, Ed Formoso came up to Jude Turcuato and me if Solar Sports could televise the Azkals’ matches. At that time, there were several former football players in Solar Sports – Ralph Roy, Rely San Agustin, Paolo Diaz, and myself. We all leapt at the chance to cover it. It was at that time I began to get reacquainted with Philippine Football after a long spell. That is where I first met Ernie Nierras who did commentary for those matches.

Around that time, I began to write for Business Mirror as a columnist and occasional reporter. Much of my early columns and articles were about football – the World Cup, UAAP Football, the Azkals, and others. For years I would cover the UAAP, Ang Liga, and the old UFL by my lonesome going from the pitches in Ateneo to Philsports to Nomads. It wasn’t easy getting articles on football published then. More often than not, it would be delayed a day or two. At times, it wasn’t even run at all. The only time they were guaranteed to be published if I used it for my Monday column. Nowadays, I get bugged if I don't write a football piece. How the times have changed -- for the better, of course.

Then I started to get critical about a lot of things regarding local football. At first it was the lack of support for the Azkals then the national futsal team that didn’t make me popular with the head people at the PFF. It got to the point where I was actually banned from entering the premises of the PFF or even interviewing the national team. If I wanted to interview them I had to seek permission first and that always meant I was denied access.

I will never forget what Aris Caslib, then head coach of the Azkals, or guys like Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario, Louie Casas, Japeth Sablon, and Phil Younghusband did. They actually went out of their way to grant interviews (without the knowledge of the powers-that-were). They kept me abreast of a lot of things. But the one person who really came through was Red Avelino.

It was during the 2009 PFF Congress where I swore that local football can go to hell after the botched ouster of the former PFF President where many turned turtle.

Poch Borromeo, Aly’s dad, gathered many of us (including DZSR’s Cecil Quimlat and current UFL official Ritchie Gannaban) in a secret meeting to determine how to fight the president. I left the meeting bewildered and sure in my decision to leave football.

That changed the following year when Red Avelino and Nonong Araneta asked me to come back in the fight with the incumbent. It wasn’t easy as no one else was writing about the corruption. To answer my tirades, the PFF President went to Quinito Henson but the Dean saw through the lies and he too joined the fight.

The penultimate battle to oust the president was hatched at Wack Wack Golf Club. It was decided to record the meeting with the board where the allegations of corruption. I released the tapes in podcast form and uploaded them to my blog. The tapes spread like wildfire and then the opposition spread.

Around this time, as a form of a bribe, I was returned as media officer to the team (a position I held very briefly in 2006). I re-took the job but said I will be fair in publishing his side of things. When I returned it wasn’t the team I knew. Chad Gould wasn't in the lineup. Des Bulpin was gone. Dan Palami was team manager and Simon McMenemy was the head coach.

I had returned in time for the 2010 Suzuki Cup.


Mike Limpag wrote something similar for his blog. Read it here.

My thoughts the Philippines defeating Turkmenistan and booking a ticket to Maldives.

This appears in

My thoughts the Philippines defeating Turkmenistan and booking a ticket to Maldives.
by rick olivares pic from

Third time’s the charm.
In two previous match-ups between the Philippines and Turkmenistan, the latter came away as heart breakers.

The two national teams first met in the qualifiers for the 2009 AFC Challenge Cup held at Maldives where the Green Men, as Turkmenistan’s side is nicknamed, routed the Azkals, 5-0.

Their second meeting was in Nepal during the semifinals of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. In that game, Phil Younghusband scored an early goal for the Azkals but Turkmenistan tacked on two late goals (all in the last 10 minutes) to oust the Philippines from the competition in a 2-1 win.

This time, the Philippines, fresh from its successful 2012 Suzuki Cup run and its recent win against Myanmar in a friendly, was holding court at home. The Azkals had not tasted defeat since playing the visiting Los Angeles Galaxy in 2011 as they have run up an eight-match undefeated streak that includes draws against Indonesia, and Malaysia and wins against Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Guam, and Macau as well as the AFC Challenge Cup 8-0 rout of Cambodia last Sunday.

The Philippines dominated possession in this final match of the Group E Qualifiers although Turkmenistan had more attempts 14-10 and shots on goal 7-6. The Azkals finally defeated this contrapelo of a team when Phil Younghusband scored in the 66th minute and held off any rally at the end for a well-deserved, 1-nil victory.

Furthermore, it’s a breakthrough win that sends the Philippines to the AFC Challenge Cup Group Stages next year in Maldives.

Why am I ecstatic about this win?

Since 2010, every tournament the Azkals have played in, they achieved something then did better the next time they made it back.

For example, in the 2010 Suzuki Cup, the Philippines advanced with a 1-2-0 record to the semifinals. In the qualifiers, they also accumulated a 1-2-0 slate. The Azkals lost twice in the semifinals stage.

In the return gig in 2012, the Philippines lost its first assignment, 1-0, to Thailand  after which they repeated 1-0 over Vietnam then finally dispatching Myanmar, 2-0 to book a semis seat. Once in the final four, they figured in a scoreless draw with Singapore before losing 1-0 in the Lions’ home field. They improved on the 2010 showing.

In the second staging of the Long Teng Cup in 2011, the team went 1-2-0. In last year’s edition, held in Manila and called the Peace Cup, the Philippines swept all three matches to win the tournament.

Then there’s the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers where the Philippines defeated Mongolia to advance. They finished 1-2-0 (there’s that record again) in the Group Qualifiers and second place to Palestine to advance to the Group Stages.

While in Nepal, they finished second to North Korea in Group B play with a 2-1-0 record to go to the semifinals where Turkmenistan ended the Philippines’ glorious run.

Where do we go from here once the Azkals set foot or paws on Maldives.

And that begs the question, what more in the next World Cup Qualifiers (we made it to the second round of the Asian Qualifiers in 2011)?

So pardon me if I am giddy about this AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers win. The team is just getting better and the only place to go – is up the FIFA rankings.

That’s a dangerous left wing the Philippines has with Dennis Cagara and Stephan Schrock racing up and down the line.

Cagara is a rock on that side that he has inherited from Ray Jonsson. He doesn’t concede much. He has good on-ball skills and has an accurate boot. The partnership with Schrock on that side, given more chances to improve their chemistry, will only spell trouble for opponents.

The two have also been tasked to take the foul and corner kicks further underscoring their importance.

I love their street dog-style feistiness that says, “We’re no longer you’re whipping dogs.”

Schrock, ever since his debut, has become a creative and dynamic force for the Azkals. He’s an impact player who can make things happen. And in two games, he has served a reminder of what he can do for the country when he is on national duty.

I am normally not fond of players coming in and taking in assured starting slots, but Schrock, always comes to play and shows his quality. Massive addition to the team when he’s there.

The home field is fast becoming a graveyard for foes.
There was a spell where the nationals (or versions of it) were taking it on the chin one after another but the improvement of the line-up as well as a top-notch domestic league that has seen an increase as well in quality of play, have turned things around.

No one is taking the Philippines lightly anymore.

You just can’t keep a good man down
Since Phil Younghusband joined the national team in 2006, he’s been paired with Chad Gould, Ian Araneta, Angel Guirado, Nate Burkey, Dennis Wolf, and Javi Patiño up front. And Phil’s still there playing and scoring goals.

Several months ago, his commitment was been questioned when it should have never been (an absurd accusation when the whole matter was because of miscommunication). It got to the point where Phil and older brother James seriously considered retiring from international duty. It's a good thing that it never pushed through because Phil’s only 25 and not even in his prime.

In the meantime, he’s got 48 caps and 33 international goals (he’s also netted four goals in his Philippine Youth teams and 27 with Loyola). Who knows where he'll end up by the time he calls it a career?

Said Phil after the shellacking of Cambodia: “Being a striker, scoring goals gives you confidence. So right now I feel confident. I scored eight in one game as a kid and seven in one game in the UFL Cup of two years ago. I also scored four goals in my second game for the national team against East Timor in 2007.”

Said fellow journo Mike Limpag (Cebu Sun Star): “I just realized something. Phil's statement of how he only needs to get to the ball to score because of the quality of his teammates? That's probably true for goals 30 to 35, but for 1 to 30? Man he had to create all those chances.”

Phil’s confidence is up once more after his spotty use in the last few months.

Ay carumba! It looks like we’ve found Phil Younghusband’s strikemate.
Javier Patiño looked to still be finding his way with the Azkals and that is understandable since he’s only played two official matches with them. But he’s showed that he can be a threat and that leaves opponents now picking their poison – PYH or Patiño.

Patiño scored two goals against Cambodia and had several chances against Turkmenistan. Right before Younghusband’s goal, his run inside the box stretched the defense for Phil’s magnificent finish. Of course, it was a superb build-up coming from Schrock to Cagara before the ball was crossed.

And if anyone noticed, we had four Fil-Spaniards in the starting eleven – Carli de Murga, Juani and Angel Guirado, and Patiño. Good to see that Spanish football, best in the world right now, is also having an impact in local football.

This is said to be the strongest line-up ever fielded
Terrific starting eleven. Strong bench. Maybe we should use that bench a little more. Of course, that is the coach’s decision and we’ll just have to abide by it.

However, I loved the aggressiveness from the opening whistle where Phil Younghusband almost scored off a terrific run up to the box by Stephan Schrock. It took time for Turkmenistan to get their bearings. And the defense as led by Rob Gier was terrific.

Terrific job to the Philippine Men’s Football National Team! You guys rock! Time to book that ticket to the Maldives!

Why did the Azkals' attack stall in the second half? Turkmenistan moved up one defender to crowd the midfield. The Azkals didn't play too many longballs as their ground game was effective. The overcrowding of the midfield was to stymie Schrock and Cagara. When this happened, I wondered why the right wing where you could bring in guys like Patrick Reichelt or OJ Porteria was not utilized. 

I wanted to watch at RMFS last night but my health didn't permit me to do that. I wanted to validate what I was seeing in snippets on television but couldn't do so because of the changes in the camera angles. Next time.