Angel Guirado’s looper from 18 yards that was too high for the keeper to deflect in the 7th minute set the tone for the Philippine Azkals’ 3-0 domination of Guam’s Matao in their friendly football match last night at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City.
Guam team captain Jason Cunliffe admitted it was a tough first half as they failed to stop Carli de Murga from scoring Philippines’ second goal in the 12th minute and fell behind 2-0.
Unable to keep pace with their host in the first half, Guam had a hard time stopping several shots on goal from Azkals’ side that kept Matao’s keeper Dallas Jeffrey Jaye busy.
On the other side, Neil Etheridge remained on a defensive stance leaving nothing to chance as Guam relentlessly tried to challenge Azkals’ attack.
Still, the Matao could not contain Guirado’s header off a pass from Dennis Cagara in injury time, closing the first half at 3-0.
“While there was some disappointment on our side, it was a good match for us Philippines played very well,” Cunliffe said in the post-game press conference.
He said they were able to make some adjustments in the second half as Guam managed to prevent the Azkals from adding more goals on their credit. While there were several close attempts from Guam, Etheridge managed to save them.
“We have a very young team and we will continue to expand and grow with more exposure and games like the one we played tonight against the Philippines,” Guam’s head coach Gary White said.
He said the Azkals have more experience and the match is a good training for the Matao as they prepare for the East Asian Championship in July.
Also seeing action for Guam last night were Ian Mariano, Ian Adamos and Christian Schweizer, three of the six players who have Filipino roots.
Watching from the bleachers were a group of Guam residents, among them Mariano’s mom Josephine, who was impressed with the Panaad Stadium and the large crowd who watched the game.
Although Guam lost, Josephine said she loves the way both teams played and her favorite player among the Azkals was Guirado.
Meanwhile, coach Michael Weiss said he was satisfied with the way the Azkals play in the first half and he can see that the team’s level of play is progressing.
The match against Guam, he said, is a good test for the team stressing that Guam deserves respect as the squad held the Azkals scoreless in the second half.
Guirado also downplayed the two goals he made during the game, saying that it was more important for the team to win and that their focus is the Suzuki Cup late this year.
The match against Guam was the Azkals’ third friendly game this month and Weiss said he was glad to see players like Jerry Lucena, Dennis Cagara blending will with the team.
In the span of 10 days, the Azkals had a scoreless draw friendly match against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and a tensed 2-2 game against Indonesia at the Rizal Stadium last week.*NAB