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SEAG2019: Azkals U22 suffer first loss against Myanmar

Despite an equalizer late in the first half and a sustained pressure in most of the second, it wasn’t meant to be as the Philippine Azkals U22 suffer a 2-1 loss from a go-ahead goal in the 79th minute against Myanmar U22 in the Southeast Asian Games 2019 Group A men’s football encounter held in Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila last November 27.

The match began with the Philippines applying pressure against the Asian Lions even forcing a corner within the first five minutes of action.

Ceres-Negros talisman and national team captain Stephan Schröck has been lively in attack, initiating plays and supplying passes up front.

But Myanmar also showed some early signs of what they are capable of with glimpses of threatening speed on the counter.

The first clear chance of the match arrived for the hosts in the ninth minute when Gallantes saw his header go way over the crossbar off a feed from Schröck.

In the 13th minute, Myanmar demonstrated an almost moment of brilliance with midfielder Myat Kaung Khant unleashing a curler from the right edge of the box that only flashed wide of the far post.

The first quarter of an hour arrived with both sides settling well into the match with promising plays traded back and forth.

However the breakthrough did arrive for the lions in the 17th minute with forward Aung Kaung Mann capitalizing on the cleverly executed one-two pass that evaded the hosts’ defense and beat the arms of Azkals keeper Anthony Pinthus.

Philippines tried for a quick response, but the Burmese squad were able to hold on firmly onto their defensive tasks.

What followed is a spell of promising breaks in favor of Myanmar whose players were able to craft half-chances on a few occasions that raised some worry on the Filipino back-line.

Near the half-hour mark, Dennis Chung was able to exploit the right flank, earning his side a free-kick but Myanmar were not threatened in the ensuing set-piece.

After another chance arrived for the visitors a few moments after the half-hour, tried to push and build on a chance, to no avail as Myanmar once again almost successfully constructed another chance to increase their lead.

A brief stoppage followed when goalscorer Myat Kaung Khant suffered a knock from a corner-kick play, but the Burmese player turned out to be able to continue as play resumed.

It was all Myanmar at this point, as the Asian Lions found another gilt-edged opportunity in the 40th minute with a teasing low cross from the left side of the box that only failed to connect with a striker.

At around the 43rd minute, just as defender Edison Suerti was introduced, a rare golden opportunity arrived for the Azkals as Myanmar committed an uncharacteristically errant pass that saw the ball roll in front of the on-rushing, Chima Uzoka, but the forward took to much time to control the ball as the visitors were able to regroup and break down the possible opportunity.

The Philippines immediately made amends equalizing in the first minute of injury time as defensive midfielder Justin Baas unleashed a pile-driver inside the box off a feed from Dennis Chung from a well-timed cross initiated by mercurial midfielder Yrick Gallantes as both teams headed into the break all-square with one goal apiece.

After that equalizer, the Philippines immediately tried to build on the momentum after the restart by piling the pressure from the get-go.

In the 49th minute a Chima Uzoka seemed to have committed a costly miss by blasting Schröck’s well placed cross towards him high in the sky. But to the relief of the Filipino fans, the play has been ruled for offside.

Despite Schröck’s inspirational leadership on the attacking end, Myanmar suddenly sparked things up on the other side in the 51st minute with an on-rushing counter-attacking play but Dennis Chung busted his lungs to track back and chase the man with the ball that led to a timely intervention to snuff out the attack.

The Filipinos immediately tried to regain the momentum and sustain it as they continued to pile the pressure relentlessly on their opponents as the Burmese resorted to defend in numbers and hopeful balls upfield.

And just after the hour mark, the hosts unwavering efforts almost got rewarded as Schröck shimmied his way into Myanmar’s danger zone at the left, unleashing another sumptuous cross that just evaded Uzoka, but kindly bounced towards Baas’ path whose low drive just missed the far post.

But Myanmar produced a scare in the 63rd minute with what seemed a decent counterattack that beat the Azkals’ backline only for the linesman to raise for offside.

A few minutes of kind spell in favor of the Azkals continue to follow as it has been all the hosts who have been able to build chances upon chances save for the go-ahead goal as Myanmar finally got a free-kick in the 71st minute, but Pinthus was able to smother the ball after initially spilling it.

Stephan Schrock has been pulling the strings in several of the plays for the Philippines but a momentary lapse gave Myanmar a glimmer of an attacking chance with Aung Kaung Mann breaking away from Amani Aguinaldo only to see his chance denied by Pinthus.

Myanmar saw another chance came begging with pacy substitute striker Win Naing Tun denied but it just served as a premonition as he found the back of the net in the subsequent play in the 79th minute when he received a well-worked lay-over from Myat Kaung Khant as the visitors regained their control of the driver’s seat.

The conversion somehow changed the complexion of the match as the Azkals lost the pressure they were able to bring to the opposition a few moments ago as Myanmar suddenly seem to be on the ascendancy late in the game.

In the 90th minute Anthony Pinthus made a crucial stop to avoid the Azkals from suffering a two-goal deficit by denying a clear one-on-one chance for Myanmar.

A late freekick for the Philippines taken by Schröck was saved by Asian Lions’ keeper Sann Sat Naing as time eventually expired with Myanmar getting their first win of the campaign at the Azkals’ expense with a 2-1 scoreline.

Philippines U22 will next face an important match against six-time SEA Games gold medal winners, Malaysia on November 29, 2019 at 8:00PM also at the Rizal Memorial Stadium while Myanmar face Timor-Leste in an earlier 4:00PM kickoff also in the same venue

Photo credit: Philippine Football Federation

Azkals U22 in Copa Alcantara serves as preview for 2019 SEA Games

The Philippines U22 squad’s opener in the Copa Paulino Alcantara served as a glimpse of what is in store for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) campaign this late November.

Speaking to the media after getting a 1-0 win in their first assignment against Green Archers United and finding themselves as early leaders in Group A, Azkals team manager Dan Palami shared his thoughts on the considerable number of spectators for the cup match that was held last October 27 in Aboitiz Pitch.

“I’m glad the fans came over and I’m happy that they got their preview of what is to come (this SEA Games).”

However, Palami was quick to point out that the list of players comprising the squad for the cup is not yet a confirmation that it will be a hundred percent the same come the biennial meet.

“I mean it’s not the final lineup yet. We’ll trim (the list) down to 20. We still have two players coming from the senior team (which will fill the slots for) the over-age players,” shared the Azkals’ boss.

During their opener last weekend, it was to note that the team expects additional players (at least two more) overseas-based who coming with the hopes of playing a part in the cup.

“Some of the players who are part of this (Copa Alcantara) team are yet to arrive, like Marco Casambre (of Thai club Chainat Hornbill) and Christian Rontini (of Italy’s Sangiovannese 1927).”

With a big pool of talents being considered for the final cut in the SEA Games, Dan Palami is expecting an intense battle for spots from the players.

“I think everybody can see that (each player) wants to play, that is why they are working hard to be part of the team,” Palami added further.

Under-22 assistant coach Ernest Nierras also stated on a separate interview that other players are also still in consideration for the final SEA Games squad, confirming that changes can still occur and nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the spots.

One particular player who has been a constant participant in the junior squad, but is not in the U22 lineup this Copa Alcantara is Ceres-Negros’ Dylan De Bruycker.

“(De Bruycker) wasn’t released by Ceres for this competition. That’s the only reason.”

Coach Nierras further informed that aside from De Bruycker, more players – overseas-based – are still in the process of being considered for the SEA Games squad who were not able to be part of the Copa simply because of their commitments with their respective clubs.

“There are still five players (based overseas) who are not here (that are being eyed).

“We are gonna field the best team that we can put together (for the Southeast Asian Games).”

The Azkals U22 are about to face their sternest test yet in their 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara participation as they face undefeated league champions Ceres-Negros who are aiming to bounce back from their lacklustre draw in their cup opener against Mendiola FC. Match kicks off at 4PM in Binan Football Stadium.

Meanwhile Mendiola FC and Green Archers continue their cup campaign as they face off in Aboitiz pitch followed by Philippine Air Force and Stallion Laguna in an evening kickoff on the same venue.

Photo credit: The Azkals

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Young Azkals’ participation highlights upcoming 2019 Copa Alcantara

In-line with the preparation for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila, the Philippines U22 squad, the Young Azkals, are set to test themselves against the best clubs in the country as they embark on the 2019 edition of the Copa Paulino Alcantara starting this late October.

As a guest team during the draw for the group stage of the Philippines’ domestic cup tournament last October 20 at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) House of Football in Pasig, the U22 has been assigned under Group A along with 2019 Philippines Football League (PFL) champion Ceres-Negros FC, Mendiola FC 1991, and Green Archers United.

Meanwhile, Group B is comprised of three teams with defending Copa Paulino Alcantara champion Kaya FC Iloilo, Philippine Air Force, and Stallion Laguna FC.

Competition Format

As discussed by PFL Commissioner Coco Torre, the seven teams will compete within their respective groups during the group/elimination stage where all matches will be in knockout format. The semifinals and final will also be one off fixtures without applying the away goals rule.

The winning team, with the exception of the Philippine U22 squad, will represent the Philippines in the 2020 AFC Cup. If the Young Azkals manage to win, the cup runners-up will be the ones to be nominated to the AFC Cup.

But if PFL champions Ceres-Negros, happen to win the tournament, the second-placer of the league will be the one to be nominated for next year’s AFC Cup competition.

All nominations to the AFC Cup will still be subject to the AFC’s club licensing regulations.

Young Azkals aim high

The Philippine U22 are anticipating at the proposition of testing their mettle against the very best in domestic professional club football scene. Such an opportunity has been further emphasized by their grouping with undefeated PFL 2019 champions and perennial AFC Cup competitors Ceres-Negros.

Azkals Team Manager, Dan Palami, who is also managing the Young Azkals is using the competition in preparation for the 2019 Southeast Asian [SEA] Games which will be held in and around Metro Manila beginning late November, has expressed that the team will compete for honors, despite not being eligible for the AFC Cup if they win it all.

“I’d like to think that we have a good chance dito sa Copa. While even if we become champions, it does not give us a slot in the AFC Cup, but [winning the competition] is what we are aiming for.”

In addition to the serious steps being taken by the national team for the SEA Games, some of the overseas-based young players already have given their full commitment to the squad by taking a significant leave of absence from their respective clubs just to focus on training with the squad.

Players like Elias Edison Suerti Mordal took a leave from Norwegian club Brattvag, and Switzerland-based Anthony Pinthus of FC Kosova is training with the squad until the conclusion of the SEA Games.

The 20 U22 players who will compete in the Copa Alcantara are the ones already in the shortlist for the SEA Games football tournament and might be the ones who will make the final list for the regional biennial tournament.

The Copa Paulino Alcantara kicks off on October 26 until November 16.

Photo credit: The Azkals

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SEA Games 2019: PINACO signs as major sponsor

The 2019 edition of the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) which will be hosted in Manila gets another boost as leading Southeast Asian dry cell and storage battery manufacturer PINACO sealed a platinum sponsorship for the biennial regional sporting tournament.

The deal was formalized during the signing ceremony held last October 17, 2019 in Shangri La at the Fort in Taguig along with Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) and Mediapro.

Vietnam-based PINACO has been involved in several regional and international sporting events through the years and their involvement in the 2019 SEA Games sets a lead-up to the 2021 edition which will take place in Vietnam.

“It is such a great honor and pride for PINACO to be one of the official Platinum Partners of this event in the hopes of contributing to the success of the Games, especially given that the 30th SEA Games is the largest sports event in the region,” said Tran Thanh Van, General Director of PINACO.

The company’s involvement in the 30th SEA Games in the Philippines is one of their biggest yet in terms of being a sponsor in sporting events. Their latest international presence has been felt during the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup which is Southeast Asia’s biggest international football competition.

During an interview after the signing event, PINACO’s Tran Thanh Van shard a bit of what is in store come the SEA Games, with the company set to lineup a series of activities for the fans.

“We will [set] a lot of activities in the Philippines [SEA Games], for example, we will have booths in the fan-zone where we will have sporting activities for the fans. And as a platinum partner, PINACO will also have presence in TV commercial spots and in-venue ads as well.”

The 30th Southeast Asian Games will begin on November 30, 2019 and will run until December 11.

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Young Azkals, Malditas get favorable groups in SEAG 2019 football

The Philippines Under-22 men’s and women’s football squads avoid regional powerhouses in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) group stage after the draw concluded last October 15 in Sofitel Hotel Manila.

The Draw (Men’s U-22)

Before the draw, hosts Philippines along with defending champions, Thailand are seeded already making up Group A and B respectively. Malaysia and Indonesia are in Pot 1, while Myanmar and Vietnam are in Pot 2. Rounding up the rest of the participants are Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Timor-Leste in Pot 3.

After the the draw of the competing teams came to a conclusion, hosts Philippines saw themselves in Group A along with Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Timor Leste.

Group B ends up with a more stacked set of squads with Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and Brunei.

The Under-22 team sees itself in a more favorable group avoiding a tougher proposition of facing Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand early in the competition.

The Draw (Women’s)

The women’s competition, which is made up of six competitors, sees two pots with Pot 1 containing Thailand and Myanmar, while Pot 2 with Malaysia and Indonesia. Hosts Philippines and Vietnam are the two seeded teams already in Group A and B respectively.

After the draw came to a conclusion, hosts Philippine women’s team see themselves grouped along with Myanmar and Malaysia while Group B sees itself with Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

The Philippine women’s team seems to find itself in a more manageable position to progress to the semifinals stage avoiding Vietnam and Thailand early in the competition.

The men’s football will kick-off on November 25 and will run until December 10. Meanwhile, the women’s tournament will be from November 26 and will conclude on December 8.

2019 SEA Games football tournament venues:

  • Rizal Memorial Stadium (Women’s and Men’s)
  • Binan Football Stadium (Women’s & Men’s)
  • Imus Grandstand (Men’s)
Officials from different nations who participated in the draw with competition manager, Coco Torre of the Philippines Football League

Photo credit: The Azkals

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PH 2019 SEA Games hosting gets massive boost with Mastercard sponsorship

The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) along with media rights distributor Mediapro Asia, score big after securing Mastercard as a major sponsor for the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which will be hosted in the Philippines.

The deal has been formally completed during a media event and signing ceremony held in Shangri-La at the Fort, Taguig attended by Mediapro Asia Managing Director Lars Heidenreich, Mastercard Philippines Country Manager Rowell Del Fierro, and PHISGOC Director of Support and Operations Jojit Alcazar.

“As the appointed sponsorship agent for the SEA Games, we are excited to announce Mastercard as an exclusive category sponsor, joining other partners who are also leaders in their respective categories to support this Philippines milestone Games and most important sporting event across South East Asia in 2019,” said Mr. Lars Heidenreich.

Mastercard’s sponsorship will not be limited only to the 2019 SEA Games as it also includes the ASEAN Para Games which will be held in early 2020. Along with the sponsorship for the games, Mastercard will also power the official mobile app of the biennial regional sporting event which will provide updates in all the different sports. These will be in addition to providing their core offering of cashless transactions for purchases related to the SEA Games such as match-tickets and other in-venue services.

In line with being sponsors, Mastercard aims to provide upcoming exclusive privileges for its cardholders such as early access in purchasing premium seats before tickets go on sale to the general public.

“While Mastercard lends its technical expertise to the Games with the goal of paving the way for the Philippines to be a cash-lite society, it also wants to provide an opportunity for Filipinos to come together to support the nation and its athletes and to Start Something Priceless,” said Mastercard Country Manager to the Philippines, Rowell Del Fierro.

The 30th SEA Games are set to commence in November 30, 2019. The Philippines will serve as hosts in the biennial tournament, the fourth time that it has taken up such a role in the regional sporting event.