Saturday, October 20, 2012

Azkals vs. Al Azraq: Three things to note

On Tuesday I sat on the Kuwait Sports Club bleacher in Kaifan, watching Azkals to exact revenge against their FIFA World Cup Qualifier tormentor—Al Azraq (The Blue Team)—Kuwait's national football team. But Azkals was again routed by the mighty Kuwaitis 1-2. You may find my article of the game here.

I note several things during the game that I try to streamline into three. I am no expert about this sport but to compare the previous game in July 2011 and on Tuesday's game is a 'no brainer'. So, I just put my observations in simple words without much of football’s terminology.
Speed and superior ball handling skills
It was the same speed and superior ball handling skills that lifted the Kuwaitis to victory. 'Speed kills' as what they said. I saw how a Kuwait striker outrunning Angel Guirado in the flank that suppose to be an all alone attack towards the goal while Kuwaiti defenders advanced deep down the midfield leaving their goal keeper alone. There were several opportunities for the Azkals that were defended well by the Kuwaitis utilizing their speed.

Midfield control
Azkals made great improvement in controlling the middle. In their first encounter in July 2011—Azkals was scoreless and very weak in the middle. The Kuwaitis took a lot of ball possession from the middle either from intercepting a pass or a steal. It is reported that Azkals control 44% of the ball during the game compare to a very low percentage last year. In this game I am impressed how Azkals was able to minimized steals. Take a look at the video below for one of the most notable play (aside from goals of course) that I took.



Very few Filipinos
Last year it was reported that around 15,000 chanting Filipinos showed up to support Azkals and I agree with that. I was not able to get in that time through the gate instead I jump off the fence. Personnel that controls the gates were pretty fucked up by the large number of Pinoys, including me that wanted to get in. The fact that Qadsiya Stadium is even bigger than Kaifan stadium but it is really full.

However last Tuesday’s game was the opposite. The stadium was smaller but the Filipinos were very few that it looks empty especially the opposite side. The total spectators, I believed not even occupied one fourth of the stadium. I feel maybe because of the following;

•    Azkals were not as popular.
•    The match was not well-promoted.
•    The match was held during midweek.

In your opinion why the Azkals did not gain the same support from the Filipinos in Kuwait like last time? Feel free to leave your answer/s in the comment box below.

Here some action photos during the FIFA sanction friendly match.
 



Both Teams warming up




Opening Ceremony




Opposite of my location that looks empty




The handshake








Al Azraq indirect free-kick





Knockout Kuwaiti baller






Group hug before second half kicks-off




Younghusband takes the penalty kick




Jubilant Pinoy's after Azkals scores the equalizer




Young Azkal fans

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