By Ivan Gayares (@ivangeoffrey)
As the Azkals prepare for its second match in World Cup Qualifying, let’s take a quick look on the Azkals opponents in Yemen.
In their first match, the Koreans pressed heavily in the first fifteen minutes leading to several goal scoring chances only to be denied by their talented keeper in Mohammed Ayash who once was in the U17 World Cup in 2003.
Their defense also held their own as they were able to minimize DPR Korea’s speed and superb passing most of the time. The Yemen backline also had to contain North Korean giant striker in Kwang Ryong Pak.
It took seventy minutes and a power of a volley from Hyok Un So to break the Yemeni defense. Something that the Azkals should note given that DPR Korea is a relatively faster and is a more cohesive team.
Yemen’s number 10 in Aiman Al Hagri seemed to be the trickiest in front together with captain/striker Ala Al Sasi. The Azkals’ opponents seemed to be lesser than Bahrain in the counter attack but their short passing game is intact, a standard in all Middle Eastern countries.
It is interesting to note that the the last win of Yemen came against Pakistan in the first round of World Cup qualifying to the score of 3-1. This was the same scoreline when the Azkals beat the same opponent in the 2013 Peace Cup.
The Yemen squad uses a 4-4-2 formation, a standard formation designated by the Czech Coach whom they just recently trained with in Doha, Qatar. The team was reported to have taken a 13 hour boat ride from their war-torn country.
The Azkals meanwhile are expected to field the same formation but Coach Thomas Dooley may try to experiment with new players to try new combinations in the squad.