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Player Ratings PHL v Hong Kong

Disclaimer: These ratings are how I personally saw how each individual Azkal played against Hong Kong in the friendly international at the Mong Kok Stadium last night. The scale is from 1 to 10. Others would, naturally, have seen things differently. If anyone cares to, just write in your own ratings using the comments box at the bottom of this page.

9 – Neil Etheridge. Man of the Match performance from the Fulham FC shot-stopper. Would have been a 10 but for a relatively peaceful first half and a couple of clearances that went awry. The wet and slippery conditions, admittedly, were as much to blame. Yet another awesome penalty save and kept Hong Kong out with brilliant goalkeeping in added time. Hong Kong were probably glad to see the last of him.

7 – Carli de Murga. Hard to slag de Murga when he is at rightback because his languid style is probably better suited in the middle of the park dictating play. Besides, de Murga is one of those players who always tries ever so hard. In the first half was rounded on a few occasions; and had the opponents had more quality the Philippines would have been duly punished. His lack of pace became less of an issue once he slotted in at central defence after injury to Robert Gier.

7 – Robert Gier. Not the cultured central defender who can bring the ball out of defence, but Gier is nothing if not stability personified. What he brings to the team was never more underscored than when he had to go off on account of an injury. As Hong Kong pressed for an equaliser late in the game, the Philippine defending cried for the Gier’s calming presence and leadership. In fact, Hong Kong started to get good looks at the Philippines’ goal only after Gier left the pitch.

6 – Juani Guirado. Bad day at the office this, for Juani Guirado. Not only did he concede a penalty off a clumsy sliding challenge in the second half, he also conceded a potentially calamitous freekick late in the match just top of the penalty box. Replays showed that the challenge was probably innocuous; but all that was needed was for Guirado to stand his ground. Not the usual assured performance from Guirado.

7 – Jeffrey Christiaens. This boy is not a human being but a horse. He gallops like one and has the lungs of one. Still has a bit to learn in terms of positioning particularly at the defensive end – and he was indeed caught stranded on a few occasions. The reassuring thing about Christiaens is – because he is a horse – even when caught out of position, he has the pace to recover. One cannot say the same thing about de Murga.

7 – Stephan Schröck. Tried a bit too much on his own, our Schröcky, probably enjoying the chance to showboat which he does not get at the Bündesliga. At the expense of team play, it has to be pointed out. Still, what is Schröck if not the catalyst of things to come; and indeed it was his cross that led to James Younghusband’s goal. Schröck’s biggest contribution to the cause, perhaps, was in the number of defenders that he attracts to himself like flies to, well, food.

7 – James Younghusband. Great opportunist headed goal; and that he was at the far post to leap when he did showed the excellent footballing brain that the older Younghusband has inside his head. Looked winded in the endgame and struggled on a few occasions to track back. Played a steady match without looking anywhere near his best form.

6 – Paul Mulders. Probably did better on the defensive side of his game, helping to break up the opposition’s plays on numerous occasions. On the offensive side, Mulders was having one of his bad hair days, frequently giving away possession even when making rudimentary 10-yard passes. It was no surprise that the Philippines played with an almost abject lack of fluency in the first half because Mulders was unable to provide the link-up play.

8 – Chris Greatwich. Not your suave Busquets type of holding midfielder but a robust British-style footballer who will give 110% to the cause. Greatwich was always there snapping at the opponents’ heels whenever they came within sniffing distance of the Philippines goal and even took a head-butt which, in all honesty, should have seen Hong Kong reduced to ten men. Probably looked unspectacular to the untrained eye, but his value in a tactical sense was immense.

6 – Chieffy Caligdong. Having been restored to the starting line-up because of the absence of players higher up the pecking order, the ‘Chief’ at times looked over-eager and lacking in composure. Would probably have had more impact had he been sent in as a second half substitute, as was often the case in the Suzuki Cup. Although Hong Kong were no strangers to him – he played against them in the Long Teng Cup – he also struggled to cope with the opponent’s overly robust defending.

6 – Phil Younghusband. The quietest we have all seen the younger Younghusband in many an Azkals game. Often played flatfooted and was a tad slow when receiving passes. Well-shackled for the duration of the match and was at times physically manhandled. That said, this was Hong Kong. Higher ranked teams will not be any kinder. I don’t seem to recall any particular moment when he posed any real threat to the Hong Kong goal. By Younghusband’s own high standards, this performance should come down as something of a disappointment.

The Substitutes

6 – Misagh Bahadoran. Probably unfortunate in that he came in as a second half substitute when Hong Kong also went on the front foot. Thus, Misagh’s best work was probably at the wrong end of the field trying to help keep Hong Kong out rather than upfront where his quickness an unpredictability could have been put to better use.

6 – OJ Porteria. Like Bahadoran did better tracking back; and especially so because James Younghusband appeared not to have the legs in the endgame. Looked a tad excitable and, thus, gave away possession in promising positions. I still say he is being wasted in midfield; and that his pace and trickery will be best playing off the target man.

(No rating for Marwin Angeles as he made his appearance too late in the game.)

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