Azkals, Indons moving past Suzuki Cup result

2010 semis is 'in the past'

As far as both sides are concerned, the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal series between the Philippines and eventual runner-up Indonesia is a thing of the past and will have little bearing on the two teams’ international friendly scheduled tomorrow at the Rizal Stadium.

Indonesia won both legs on their home field by identical 1-0 scores, with the Philippines unable to host their home leg since no suitable venue was available.

“I really don’t consider it a revenge match,” said defender Rob Gier, who played in that series.” A lot of things have happened since that semifinal. It’s gonna be an interesting game, sort of gauge where we’re at for the Suzuki Cup.”

“It’s just a friendly game, a preparation for the Suzuki Cup,” said Azkals captain Chieffy Caligdong, who missed the Indonesia series due to injury. “The past is the past.”
 
Midfielder Manny Ott will be facing the Indonesians for the first time after he was prevented by his club team from playing in the Suzuki Cup semifinals.

“I watched the game at home,” he recalled. “It was really hard for me. Tomorrow I’ll be back on the pitch and I hope I’ll do well.”

Indonesia’s captain, Irfan Bachdim, also downplayed the Suzuki Cup results, pointing out that they will be fielding a virtually new team.

“It’s different. Markus (Maulana) and I are the only ones left from that team. We also have a new coach,” said Bachdim, a half-Indonesian, half-Dutch forward who is one of his country’s most popular players.

Azkals coach Hans Michael Weiss said he will use the match to assess where they are in their preparations for November’s AFF Suzuki Cup, even as he expressed optimism that the Philippines will finally beat Indonesia after going 0-18-1 (win-loss-draw) in the two countries’ head-to-head match-ups.

“It will be important to see how our team has progressed in the last few months,” said the German coach, who said he may just have the strongest Philippine eleven at his disposal tomorrow night, even without midfielder Stephan Schrock, who had to abruptly leave for Germany to attend to a personal family matter.

“We are expecting the arrival tonight of Dennis Cagara and Jerry Lucena, so we will have a very strong squad. [Schrock] had no choice but to leave the team. We have a very strong squad, maybe the strongest squad ever for the Philippines, so we have a lot of options.”

Indonesian coach Nil Maizar, who took over the coaching reins of the national team barely two months ago, spoke little at the press conference, except to say his side would be competitive.

“I hope my team will be successful tomorrow night,” said the former national player, who took over from Dutchman Wim Rijsbergen.

The Merah Putih (red and white), as the Indonesian team is known, is currently ranked 151st in the FIFA rankings, three notches below the Philippines. They last played an international match last February 29, the same day the Philippines and Malaysia fought to a 1-1 standoff, and lost big to Bahrain in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers by a score of 10-0.

The Younghusband brothers and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who missed the friendly against Malaysia last Friday, will be back on the pitch tomorrow, and will be joined by regulars Caligdong, Gier, Ott, Jason Sabio, Angel and Juani Guirado, Carli De Murga, Misagh Bahadoran, Marwin Angeles, Jason De Jong, Ian Araneta and Denis Wolf, among others.

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