After bowing to Thailand in a friendly match last night, the Philippine Azkals are back in the drawing board in preparation for the Suzuki Cup. Here are some points on why we needed that loss.
Forget the FIFA rankings
I have said this before in a previous post and will say it again, the rankings will only show how ACTIVE your national team is in the last few years but will neither dictate performance nor give a sure win.
Many of our fans have been obsessing on the #1 ranking tag in the ASEAN region and it gives us a wrong mindset in the way we approach games. To be honest, we are probably #5 in the seniors and #10 for U23 and below.
It is good to note that Thailand’s U23 team reached the semis of the Asian Games this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if that what the same team that beat us last night. We still have so much to work on in all levels to deserve the #1 rank.
Speed of the ASEAN game
We played Thailand’s A-B team and we lost after they put on a counter attacking clinic last night. It is something I expected that we would struggle with this year and it manifested in the game.
The National team has a new set of players and we needed that beating to re-introduce how big speed is a factor in the south east asian game. We expect nothing less from Laos, Indonesia, and Vietnam in a few weeks time.
So how this is good for us?
Tournament wise, we just put ourselves out as favorites in the Suzuki cup after the recent losses to Myanmar and Thailand. The less attention would probably give us an advantage as Indonesia and Vietnam are sure to be overconfident in making the semis right now.
It’s always better that we lost big now rather than in the tournament itself. The ultimate reason Thomas Dooley was hired is to bring the team to the next level and it’s good that we have some days to work on our game especially our weaknesses.
There were some people around social media that were clamoring for a return of Michael Weiss and I found that utterly ridiculous. We have improved so much tactically under Dooley and it was evident last night as we controlled the possession in Thailand’s home turf.
Seeing new players and testing new combinations will be very good for us in the long run. In my opinion, Dooley was already testing out worst case scenarios last night as suspensions and injuries are inevitable in the Cup. We are only as good as our weakest player.
I predicted a 3-nil loss for our team coming into the game and sadly was spot on. What I didn’t predict though was that we played better football than I initially thought.
We may have lost big last night but what we’ve learned is far more important than the result.