Kanto Punditry: Three Points from Yemen 1-1 Philippines

Here are three points from Yemen’s draw with the Philippines in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

1) The Azkals defence is in shambles

– The dearth of Centre Back options are killing the Azkals. For this game, Sean Patrick Kane and Dennis Villanueva stepped up to the plate despite playing out of position, with varying results.

Kane acquitted himself with calm and composure. The JPV Marikina man made several key interceptions, and saved Neil Etheridge from an inbound corner header. A solid debut that bodes well for the Azkals’ utility options.

The same cannot be said for Dennis Villanueva. The Global Cebu midfielder has played numerous times in the Azkal back line, with no improvement whatsoever. Late tackles, unconvincing marking and giving the ball away in dangerous areas simply couldn’t be removed from his game at CB. Good thing the crossbar saved him from an embarassing freebie pass to Yemen in the first half. Thomas Dooley must now consider dropping him from the CB roll. He is clearly unfit for the position.

2) Mixed bag in attack

-It took 89 minutes for the boys in blue to salvage the game via Mike Ott. It shows that the Azkals were made to earn their chances in the game. The 4-4-2 they used produced a lackluster performance from a majority of attackers and midfielders.

Azkals 4-4-2 vs Yemen

First, Mike Ott was saved by his goal. For 88 minutes, he was quiet and had a nearly bad game. That tied in to the fact that he cut inside from the right wing in the first half, then as a secondary runner up front in the second. His postioning and space to attack was blocked, due to the suffocating defence employed by Yemen against Phil Younghusband.

Yemen’s suffocating defence against the Azkals forwards


Phil, due to the defence, was expectedly quiet. However, it is clear to see that he is not the striker of old. He now prefers to sit in the hole and create, instead of playing at the shoulders and attacking with movement. This created problems in attack, since no one else played the target man/forward runner role in the squad. Pika Minegishi, also a roaming playmaker, did not run behind into the box.

The overabundance of playmakers up front is useless without a striker to create for. They should now prime the likes Jhan Melliza, Dylan De Bruycker and Connor Tacagni to poach the goals while Javi Patiño and Misagh Bahadoran are out.

3) Dooley’s questionable decisions

-For a crucial game, Thomas Dooley made some questionable decisions. First, playing 4-4-2 for a team full of creative players and only one servicing wing is baffling enough. The defence employed on Phil, the space that ate in front of Mike Ott, and the inefficacy of Minegishi up front, meant that the Yemenis were happy to let Iain Ramsay and Daisuke Sato cross to an empty box from the left.

Next are the substitutions. Junior Muñoz was immediately attacked during his introduction, leading to Tawfiq Ali’s goal. Then, Coach Dooley replaced Sean Kane, the better performing defender, for James Younghusband after Yemen sat back and employed the counterattack tactics seen in Panaad. Muñoz acquitted himself by winning the ball that led to Mike Ott’s goal, but James and Curt Dizon, who replaced the lone attacking outlet Iain Ramsay, did nothing of note to help chase the game.

Lastly, there seems to be no other options in attacking tactics. You would’ve thought the Azkals were leading in the second half instead of chasing the game with the slow possession game. Dooley needs to instill more technical aspects and fluid movement in the squad. As it is, the Azkals would be in for a rude awakening if we qualify for 2019. To do that with certainty, the Azkals must climb the Himalayas and beat Nepal at their home.

16 thoughts on “Kanto Punditry: Three Points from Yemen 1-1 Philippines

  1. Great insight! I’ve been lamenting the poor back line for many games, and your points on Amani are spot on! He has done more harm than good in our defense.

  2. Your commentary unfortunately did not hit any important point of the game. Lets take a look for short:
    The tactic 4-4-2 was certainly the right tactic to help to avoid a loss. That there are many personal errors without exception of any player was the result of greater nervousy. It was a fact that the Yemen strikers often were so easily playing out their opponents one by one has nothing to do with tactic, but the good thing was that each player was willing to fight for others to correct the errors. The midfield did not exist you said but I saw some very good attacks although some midfield players where too busy to help out their defense. A striker would have be a surplus but from where to take it? The coach was excellent because the players although with many errors never gave up to fight because they enjoyed the trust of the coach. A coach problem, oh no, The Philippine team has with the draw all the chances to qualify. If you can comment a little more constructive and positive you can also make a contribution and help the team. See more the good sides, the coach knows anyway what went wrong and sure will work on it. You could help with more positive comments at least to lift up the confidence of the whole team. I was watching the game only from Internet tv. Maybe you where there and watched live? If you saw more then ok but your comments are sounding more like making the team down than to help.
    I wish you good luck for the future.

    1. Hi. Thank you for the comment.

      As much as I would like to praise the team, the glaring deficits were too obvious not to point out. I am pointing these out to help the team actually. Of course, no one wants to criticize each and everytime, but for this team that still has big untapped potential to improve, cutting the losses would certainly help, and I’m just doing my part in that regard. Praising bad habits leads to complacency, and I don’t want to have that.

      As for last night, a lot of things could’ve gone better. The things I pointed out were actually the only errors they made in general, and everything else was pretty much the same. I hope that the team sees these for them to rectify. When they do that, I believe I have done my part in their improvement. There a lots of ways to skin a chicken, this is just one of them.

      Thank you for reading the post. All of us here in PF wishes you a good day, and we hope you visit our future content.

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