So Craig Burrows and I are off to Sri Lanka later today 🙂 Going through Kuala Lumpur again we’ll arrive in Sri Lanka on Monday, 7:15am-ish… ready to report, photograph and tweet our way through the first leg.
Of course the last two games for the Azkals haven’t gone the same way as their dominant wins before, here’s the results for the Philippines’ camp in Germany:
Aachen-Düren Selection 1-4 Philippines
SC Bonner 1-4 Philippines
FC Ingolstadt 04 4-0 Philippines
SV Darmstadt 98 5-0 Philippines
The last two games may have been heavy losses but it must be remembered that Ingolstadt and Darmstadt are in the second and third tier of German Football. The measurement of success is not so much how many games did the Philippines win but how different the score would be if Sri Lanka had played instead. The positives to come out of the game are the increased cohesion of the squad, the players regularly training, eating and playing competitively together over a number of weeks. In comparison, Sri Lanka only released their squad this week and so have had far less time to train together and test their skills. Playing against better teams helps the players to step up their game and there would have been a danger of overconfidence had they won convincingly each time.
The worries are now the confidence of specific players who seem to have some fans turn on them quite nastily. Neil
Etheridge’s goalkeeping blooper in the game against Ingolstadt will surely be playing on his mind and it must be remembered that Neil is just 21 years of age. While he is of course one of the best players on the Azkals team it is very early in his career and he needs to develop the mental toughness of a player at that level. Maturity takes time and Neil has that on his side but in the short-term it is likely he needs the support of the fans to build up his confidence before the first leg against Sri Lanka. Germany was a step up in competition for the Philippine squad, fitting with their goal of trying to not only pass through Sri Lanka but in anticipation of Kuwait too who are ranked 55 places above the Philippines at 101 in the world (Philippines = 156). To check out the Azkals versus Ingolstadt see the youtube video below – Neil Etheridge’s blunder is from 1:35 onwards – remember to be kind in your comments, the best goalkeepers in the world have all made similar mistakes.
In anticipation of the Philippines the Sri Lankan coach Jang Jung has conceded it will be a difficult test:
“They are certainly going to give us (Sri Lanka) the stiffest challenge we could expect. They have prepared well in advance than us. We began our training campaign a little late due to a slight delay in selections but the boys are in good shape. We are confident of giving them a good fight,” as quoted by the Sunday Times in Sri Lanka.
So with the game fast approaching and with Craig and I heading to Sri Lanka remember to follow @roymondous and @craigburrows for live commentary of the game and inside sights, moments and stories from Sri Lanka. Subscribe to the blog for more on the COUNDOWN TO SRI LANKA and the AFTERMATH OF SRI LANKA. Hopefully I’ll be able to get control of Craig’s account once more and continue my series FACTS ABOUT CRAIG. Comment here about whatever you’d like to know about Craig and I’ll see what I can dig up – investigate reporting 101 🙂
Next on the COUNTDOWN TO SRI LANKA: First Impressions
Co-director of the Fairplay for All Foundation which runs Payatas FC, Kasiglahan FC and Kasiglahan Girls FC. Check out the charity and donate to support grassroots football providing education and homes for street kids: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fairplay-For-All-Foundation/163370857062294