"In Manila, we will give Kuwait a very tough fight."
That's what the Azkals' coach, Michael Weiss said after his team suffered a tough loss, 3-0, against the Kuwaitis earlier today at Kuwait. Luck and sheer determination conspired for Kuwait. Luck was on their side because Phil Younghusband had several chances to score a goal or two for the Azkals but they just hit the bar or the Goalie of Kuwait was able to deflect some of it. Imagine, Phil had 3 good chances to score a goal in the 1st half, but they didn't materialize. And also, let's face it, they have more quality players on the field with exceptional skills compared to our players. The Azkals played without their team captain Aly Borromeo and Stephen Shrock. Those two are important for the Azkals because they provide great on field defense and great hustle for their team. The Azkals were on the shorter end of the stick in this game.
On the other hand, the scoring for Kuwait was started by their leader, Yousef Nasser. He made a great header in the 17' mark of the first half. Since then they just kept on pressing against the Azkals for 2 more goals. They never looked back to the Azkals. Their persistence gave them the win. If there's someone on Kuwait that the Azkals should stop, it's Nasser. He's been the scorer of Kuwait. Even in the Gulf Cup of Nations last year, he was the one who scored the final goal for Kuwait that gave them the win.
In the second half, the Azkals stepped up on their on field defense but they still can't score a goal on the other end. I thought that the 1st leg match between the Azkals and Kuwait will end with the score of 2-0 but Kuwait was able to score a late goal to make the final score 3-0. That late goal made the Azkals' home game on July 28 tougher. That resulted to an aggregate score of 3-0 in favor of Kuwait. The Azkals will have to score 4-0 against Kuwait or else they will be eliminated and they will no longer advance to the group stage of the qualifiers.
If ever the Azkals will only be able to score 3-0 against Kuwait, there will be an aggregate score of 3-3. Thus, there will be an extra time to determine who the winner is. There will be no penalty kicks because according to the away goal rule, there will be penalty kicks if the away country was able to make a goal. On the Azkals' case, they were not able to score a goal in Kuwait that's why they should go for a tie so that they will be able to have an extra time to score a goal. If after the extra time, the score is stil 3-0, Kuwait will be the winner and the Azkals will be eliminated.
I still believe that the Azkals will be able to make a miracle. Who knows, they might be able to have the same performance that they showed against Sri Lanka in our home soil. We were able to score 4 goals against the Sri Lankans. I don't see any reason why we can't do the same against Kuwait. With the rowdy crowd that we have in the Rizal Football Field, anything is possible. We just have to support our guys on the Philippine Azkals vs. Kuwait 2nd leg match on July 28, 2011, Thursday. The kick off will be at 7:00 p.m. and it will be aired live on Studio 23 at 5:30 p.m..