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Aces back as Azkals face Oman in friendly

After their semifinal stint in Bangladesh, the Philippine Azkals bring in the big guns for their international friendly against world No. 85 Oman in Doha, Qatar on Saturday......»»

Category: sportsSource: philstar philstarOct 11th, 2018

History within reach as Azkals face Tajikistan with Asian Cup qualification on the line

The Philippine Azkals are on the brink of making history and could be ninety minutes away from doing so as they close out their 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers campaign against Tajikistan on Tuesday, March 27th at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. A win or a least a draw will send the Azkals to the AFC Asian Cup tournament for the first time in Philippine football history. Sitting at the top of Group F, the Azkals started strong, picking up back-to-back victories in the Group Stages against Nepal and Tajikistan, creating early separation from the field. In their last three matches however, the Philippine side managed three draws, twice against Yemen and once against Nepal. Still, the Azkals find themselves in prime position to advance to the Asian Cup tournament, and while a stalemate would be enough, it’s the maximum three points that they’re after. “This is a game that we have to win because we want to win our home games. We wanna win every game. It’s important for us to beat a team that we’ve beaten before, and we haven’t lost a game yet in the tournament, so we wanna do the same, we don’t wanna lose the game at home.” said Azkals head coach Thomas Dooley during the pre-match press conference. “Our focus is winning the game. If it comes out as a tie, it’s okay, but we’re trying to win our game.” Coming off a 3-2 win over Fiji in an International Friendly last Thursday, the Azkals, who are coming off a long layoff, have now found their footing, and team captain Phil Younghusband believes that the team is confident heading into the match. “It’s a big game tomorrow. The players understand that. The team understands that. We’re looking forward to the game and we’re going to the game with good confidence but also very wary of how good Tajikistan are.” The visitors will need a victory to keep their Asian Cup dreams alive. Aside from the Azkals making history, Fil-British foward is also on-pace to make some history of his own. Already the leading scorer for the Philippine National Team, Younghusband is one away from reaching the 50-goal mark and would be the first Filipino to do so. Reaching the half-century mark puts Younghusband up there with the likes of international football greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldo, and many others. For the Azkals’ skipper however, getting the all-important win is what matters. “The 50th can wait for another time, the most important thing is we win the game. Obviously it would be perfect if I could score the 50th and we win the game, but the most important thing is the win because that would take us to another level in the Asian Cup.”   With a win, the Azkals will improve to 12 points and finish first in Group F, securing a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup. With a draw, they finish with ten points and are assured of a top-two finish in Group F, which will also secure a spot in the 2019 Asian Cup. A loss and the Azkals finish with nine points, while Tajikistan finishes with ten points. Should this be the case, The Azkals will need to hope for a Yemen loss in their final match against Nepal to be assured of a second-place finish in Group F and qualification to the 2019 Asian Cup.   Catch the Azkals as they take on Tajikistan in their final 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers match on Tuesday, March 27th, LIVE on LIGA channel 86 and LIGA HD channel 183. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 27th, 2018

PBA: Underperforming bench dooms Blackwater vs Alaska

Blackwater Elite head coach Bong Ramos admitted that his bench had lacked effort in their 116-109 loss against the Alaska Aces at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Sunday evening. Of the Elite's 109 points, his players off the bench only provided 19 markers compared to the Aces' 37. The coach pointed out several instances in the game where his team fought back their opponents' runs but as his starters rested, the lead somehow ballooned once more for the now 7-2 squad. "Every time nagro-rotate ako ng player medyo gumegewang kami. Di kami naging consistent. Start of the game we controlled the game -- siyempre kailangan ko ipahinga yung starters ko -- pag-rotate ko medyo gumewang kami," the mentor said. Ramos also rued some calls which did not go Blackwater's way, which definitely left a bad taste in their mouths for the remainder of the contest. With the tough loss, all the team wants is to regroup and take on the next challenge as they face the upset-conscious Columbian Dyip at the Alonte Sports Arena in Binan Saturday afternoon.  The Johnedel Cardel-led team is coming off an upset win against Rain or Shine last Friday with sky-high morale on their minds. In facing the 1-9 team, guards will not be let down in order to avoid a second-straight party spoiler by the cellar dwellers.  With a potential victory, the team will inch ever closer once again to a coveted twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals, a distinction held by the top four teams of the Governors' Cup standings.  "Wala naman kaming mahinang kalaban kasi kulelat kami noong nakaraang conference so that means yung Dyip, malakas pa rin yun. Kailangan talunin namin, kailangan trabahuhin namin. We cannot get Dyip on a silver platter or spoon na ibibigay lang sa amin." __ Follow this writer on Twitter, @philipptionary. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 21st, 2018

PBA: Alaska grinds out win over Columbian, but Compton ‘unhappy’

It was easy to understand why Alex Compton looked and sounded defeated even though he was doing the customary winning coach's interview. Playing a team that has done practically nothing worth remembering in the PBA Governors' Cup, Compton's Alaska Aces needed 44 points and 27 rebounds from import Mike Harris to turn back Columbian, 104-94, to earn at least a tie for a playoff berth in the season-closing conference on Wednesday night. For such a powerhouse team to be dragged into a close contest by such a lowly squad, Compton faced reporters with a long face, a somber tone and words of displeasure towards his charges who are up for a crucial game with another top four contender ...Keep on reading: PBA: Alaska grinds out win over Columbian, but Compton ‘unhappy’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsOct 17th, 2018

Azkals hold 85th-ranked Oman to a draw

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals drew Oman, 1-1, in a FIFA International "A" friendly on Saturday, October 13 at Al Gharafa Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar.  It was the first time in 17 years that the country faced 85th-ranked Oman as the Philippine men's football team continues its buildup for ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsOct 14th, 2018

PVL: Cool Smashers respond to early wake up call

Creamline came into the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference as the title favorite especially after its good build up which included a training camp in Thailand. However, the Cool Smashers started on the wrong foot and stumbled in a stinging five-set loss to PetroGazz.     “Well sobrang frustrated namin as a team talaga kasi syempre hindi namin ine-expect na ganoon kasama ‘yung pagkatalo namin kasi we’ve been training hard for the past few months,” said top hitter Alyssa Valdez. The Cool Smashers bowed down to the Angels in five sets, 25-27, 25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 5-15. It was a crushing loss especially with the fifth set result with Creamline squandering an early 4-0 lead as PetroGazz answered with a 15-1 barrage to steal the match.     “It’s a wake up call, it’s an early wake up call sa amin and it’s a good thing ganoon na panggising. We hope na talagang natuto kami,” said Valdez. The Cool Smashers responded on Wednesday with an emphatic sweep of Tacloban, 25-15, 25-21, 25-15, despite playing their second game without veteran libero Mel Gohing.   “Ngayon syempre nanalo kami but we were struggling sa middle ng mga sets so we really have to work on that pa,” said Valdez, who scored 20 points on 15 kills and five aces. Creamline got into trouble in the second set, needing to come back from a 13-16 deficit to get back on the right track and cruise into a straight sets win.      “Kahit nag-struggle kami we make it to a point, we thought and we think talaga na hindi na kailangan mangyari yung nangyari last game kasi sana natuto na kami doon,” Valdez said. The Cool Smashers will face listless Iriga-Navy on Sunday.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2018

US OPEN 18: Nadal aims for 2nd title in a row in New York

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Men to watch at the U.S. Open, where play begins Monday: ___ RAFAEL NADAL Seeded: 1 Ranked: 1 Age: 32 Country: Spain 2018 Match Record: 40-3 2018 Singles Titles: 5 Career Singles Titles: 80 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — U.S. Open ('10, '13, '17), Wimbledon ('08, '10), French Open ('05, '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14, '17, '18), Australian Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-Won Championship,'16-Lost in 4th Round,'15-3rd,'14-Did Not Play,'13-W Aces: Won the U.S. Open as No. 1 seed in 2010, 2017. ... Trying to become first man to repeat as champion in New York since Roger Federer won his fifth in a row in 2008. Topspin: Beat two past U.S. Open champions and two future stars en route to tuneup title at Toronto Masters this month. ___ ROGER FEDERER Seeded: 2 Ranked: 2 Age: 37 Country: Switzerland 2018 Match Record: 33-5 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 98 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — U.S. Open ('04, '05, '06, '07, '08), Wimbledon ('03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '09, '12, '17), Australian Open ('04, '06, '07, '10, '17, '18), French Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-QF,'16-DNP,'15-RU,'14-SF,'13-4th Aces: Only made it to the final at Flushing Meadows once in the decade since his last title. ... Could face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals. Topspin: Still has never played Nadal at the U.S. Open. If they meet this year, it would be for the title. ___ JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Seeded: 3 Ranked: 3 Age: 29 Country: Argentina 2018 Match Record: 37-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 22 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open ('09) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-SF, '16-QF, '15-DNP, '14-DNP, '13-2nd Aces: Playing in his 22nd major tournament since his lone such title. If he gets a second, he would set an Open era record for most Slam appearances before No. 2. Topspin: Biggest forehand in the game makes him ever-dangerous on hard courts. Just needs his oft-repaired left wrist to hold up on backhands. ___ ALEXANDER ZVEREV Ranked: 4 Seeded: 4 Age: 21 Country: Germany 2018 Match Record: 43-13 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 9 Major Titles: 0 — Best: QF, French Open ('18) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-2nd,'16-2nd,'15-1st,'14-DNP,'13-DNP Aces: Recently started working with Ivan Lendl, saying: "He's a smart man, a great guy. Done it as a player, done it as a coach, so he knows what it takes." Topspin: Has won three Masters titles. Now it's time to step up at a Grand Slam tournament and get to his first semifinal. ___ KEVIN ANDERSON Seeded: 5 Ranked: 5 Age: 32 Country: South Africa 2018 Match Record: 33-1 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: RU, U.S. Open ('17) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-RU, '16-3rd, '15-QF, '14-3rd, '13-2nd Aces: Runner-up at two of the past four majors, including in New York last year, then again at Wimbledon last month. Topspin: Coming into his own late in his career, he's shown that with a big serve and consistent groundstrokes, he is a contender on fast surfaces. ___ NOVAK DJOKOVIC Seeded: 6 Ranked: 6 Age: 31 Country: Serbia 2018 Match Record: 33-10 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 70 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 13 — U.S. Open ('11, '15), Wimbledon ('11, '14, '15, '18), Australian Open ('08, '11, '12, '13, '15, '16), French Open ('16) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-DNP, '16-RU, '15-W, '14-SF, '13-RU Aces: Since starting the year 6-6, has gone 27-4. ... Titles at Wimbledon and Cincinnati Masters (beating Federer in the final) make him a popular pick. Topspin: Sure seems very close to being right back at his best after a lull caused at least in part by an injured right elbow. ___ JOHN ISNER Seeded: 11 Ranked: 11 Age: 33 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 26-5 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 14 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, U.S. Open ('11) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-3rd, '16-3rd, '15-4th, '14-3rd, '13-3rd Aces: 12 of 14 titles have come in the U.S. ... Just one quarterfinal appearance in New York, way back in 2011. Topspin: Says playing with calm and not fretting over results helped him have his best season, including first Slam semifinal at Wimbledon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

High-priced, established pitchers could be on the move soon

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press From aces to closers, pitchers will be on the move this month. Teams trying to make a push for the postseason are always looking to add new arms. There are some big names available on the trade market who can make a difference in the starting rotation or bullpen. Here are 10 pitchers — five starters and five relievers — who could be changing uniforms before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline: COLE HAMELS: The MVP of the 2008 World Series and NLCS has been through this before, going from the Phillies to the Rangers in July 2015. Hamels has a career-worst 4.36 ERA and he's already allowed 21 homers, but he's a proven lefty who could benefit from pitching away from a hitter-friendly ballpark. Hamels has a 2.93 ERA in 10 starts on the road. Texas may have to eat some of his salary, however. His contract includes a team option for $20 million next year or a $6 million buyout. Hamels also has a no-trade clause for 20 teams. J.A. HAPP: Another former Phillies lefty, Happ is in the final season of his contract with Toronto. He had three rough starts leading to his first All-Star appearance but has been a consistent starter in baseball's toughest division for a few years. Happ is 10-6 with a 4.29 ERA and is averaging more than one strikeout per inning for the first time in his career in a season in which he's pitched at least 100 innings. MATT HARVEY: After rejuvenating his career in Cincinnati following his release from the Mets earlier this season, Harvey could find himself back in a pennant race. The righty is 5-3 with a 3.64 ERA in 12 starts. JORDAN ZIMMERMANN: He's 4-1 with a 3.79 ERA in 12 starts after an atrocious 2017 season. Zimmermann has the highest strikeout percentage of his career (23.6 percent) but he's owed $50 million over the next two seasons, so the Detroit Tigers might have to pay some of his salary to deal him. NATHAN EOVALDI: Back on the mound after missing 2017 following Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi is 3-4 with a 4.59 ERA in nine starts for the Rays. The righty was roughed up in his final start before the All-Star break but pitched well in his previous three starts. He is only making $2 million this season, so he's a cheap option for budget-conscious teams. ZACH BRITTON: The hard-throwing lefty had 120 saves between 2014-16 before injury cut his season short in 2017. He's back healthy and hasn't allowed a run in 13 of his 15 appearances. Britton is making $12 million this season, and the Baltimore Orioles will have plenty of suitors. BRAD HAND: A two-time All-Star, Hand is signed through 2020 with a team option for 2021 and will be one of the most pursued relievers. He has 24 saves with 65 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings, and the San Diego Padres will be asking for a lot in return. RAISEL IGLESIAS: The Reds have no urgency to move a 28-year-old closer who won't become a free agent until 2022, but Iglesias can net solid prospects in a trade. He has 19 saves and a 2.36 ERA. JOAKIM SORIA: After returning to closing, Soria is having his best season since 2015 in his first year with the White Sox. He has 14 saves and a 2.75 ERA for a team that should be a seller. KYLE BARRACLOUGH: He has a 1.28 ERA and nine saves for Miami in 44 appearances and is under team control for multiple years, so the Marlins will get plenty of calls for the tough righty......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 19th, 2018

PBA: After ordeal, Jeron Teng happy to be helping Alaska on the court again

Monday night in their 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals Game 2 loss to San Miguel, Jeron Teng finished with 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists in 21 minutes for the Alaska Aces. And while it was a loss that pushed Alaska to the brink of elimination, head coach Alex Compton saw a bit of a silver lining in Teng’s performance. “I thought he did a great job. It's been a crazy time for Jeron but for him to start to get his timing back and play more, be in better shape, I don't think you would think that Jeron got stabbed a month ago and we'd be worried about his life at the hospital.” A little over a month ago, Teng, along with former DLSU teammates Thomas Torres and Norbert Torres were involved in a scuffle that led to all three getting deep lacerations.  Teng’s perfomance in Game 2 was his best since the unfortunate incident. “If you watched the game and didn't know the situation, you would have never thought that that happened. To be able to play 21 minutes and mix it up, I thought it was great.” Compton added. Indeed, it has been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Teng, but more than anything, he’s just thankful to be on the floor and contributing again. “Well siyempre, after the incident, sarap lang talaga maglaro ng basketball ulit, I’m just happy I’m back again, playing and helping my teammates.” And while he did put up solid numbers, Teng believes that he could do more, especially now that their backs are against the wall. “Next game lang, we just have to play better. I have to play better parin kasi siyempre we lost, may mga points of improvement pa ako from this game, and it’s another experience from me.” As thankful as he was to be back on the court again, Teng also expressed his gratitude to the Alaska organization, who has been with him through all of this. “Siyempre it feels great, with the incident, the whole Alaska organization was behind me talaga, they supported me, they visited me, even si Boss [Wilfred] Uytengsu and yung mga coaches, they visited me in the hospital and they’re really supportive with what happened and the case na on-going, so sobrang thankful ko talaga sa kanila, sa buong Alaska organization.” Now, with the bitter memories of that fateful night in BGC behind him, Teng is just hungry to win and hopefully to help his team to a title. “Ako, gustong-gusto ko talaga maka-abot ng finals eh, mag-champion.” For Teng, a title would help remove the sting of the ordeal. “After ng incident, siguro pag nag-champion kami, makakalimutan ko na yun.” It’s going to be an uphill battle for Teng and the Aces to even come close to a finals berth however, as they’re now down 2-0 in a best-of-five series against the defending champions. Teng and the Aces face San Miguel in Game 3 on Wednesday, July 18th at the Araneta Coliseum......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn't really seem fair. To Anderson, anyway. They had played on and on, through 6 1/2 hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points — the last. So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: "At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us." He continued: "John's such a great guy, and I really feel for him, because if I'd been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming up short." Only one match at Wimbledon ever lasted longer: Isner's 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, the longest match in tennis history. It went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating it. Friday's contest lasted so long, the day's second semifinal didn't finish. Novak Djokovic was leading Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) in a compelling showdown filled with entertaining points that was suspended as soon as the third set concluded at just past 11 p.m., the curfew at the All England Club. Some people in the stands booed the decision to halt the match after a fantastic tiebreaker in which Nadal wasted three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7. Djokovic cashed in on his second when Nadal's backhand found the net after an 18-stroke exchange. Because Nadal and Djokovic didn't begin playing until after 8 p.m., the retractable roof above the main stadium was shut between the matches and the arena's artificial lights were turned on. Now they'll come back Saturday to figure out who will face Anderson in the final, resuming at 1 p.m. local time, under the roof. The women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will then follow. That creates an unusual situation: Instead of a standard 2 p.m. start, Williams and Kerber won't know exactly when their match will begin. Anderson will certainly appreciate the chance to put his feet up ahead of Sunday's final, while Nadal and Djokovic — who have a combined 29 Grand Slam titles between them, five at Wimbledon — push each other some more. Anderson's fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill. "He stayed the course incredibly well," said the No. 9 seed Isner, a 33-year-old American playing in his first major semifinal. "Just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn't happen." Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty. "That definitely brings a smile to my face," said Anderson, the runner-up to Nadal at last year's U.S. Open. "At that stage, you're just trying to fight in every single moment, and I was like, 'Just get up!'" The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it's hard to imagine how Anderson will have much left for his second Slam final. Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum. Both Isner and Anderson said they'd like to see that change. At one point in the fifth set, a spectator shouted, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!" The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at Illinois. In the pros, Isner had won eight of 11 previous matchups. But this one was as close as can be. There wasn't a whole lot of intrigue, or momentum shifts. The serving, though, was something else. Isner pounded his at up to 142 mph; Anderson reached 136 mph. They combined for 102 aces: 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson. "The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed — a lot to be proud of," said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner's coaches. Both failed to seize early opportunities. Isner wasted a set point in the opener. Anderson served for the third at 5-3, got broken, and then had a pair of set points in that tiebreaker, double-faulting one away. By the latter stages, with break chances so rare, murmurs would spread through the Centre Court stands whenever a game's returner got to love-15 or love-30. Could we be about to see the sixth and last break of a match that would end up with 90 holds? Repeatedly, the answer was, of course, "No," even when Anderson held break points at 7-all, 10-all and 17-all. The 10-all game ended with Isner hitting a forehand passing winner on the run to hold, then letting his momentum carry him directly to his sideline chair, where he plopped himself down. By the end, he was looking exhausted, leaning over to rest a hand on a knee between points. "I feel pretty terrible," Isner said afterward. "My left heel is killing me and I have an awful blister on my right foot." He never got a break point in the fifth set. Anderson finally came through on his sixth for a 25-24 lead, when Isner wearily put a backhand into the net. Then Anderson served out the victory, with Isner sailing a forehand wide on match point. Soon, they were meeting for an embrace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Diamon Simpson returns to Alaska, Teng reactivated

Alaska has brought back a familiar face that has brought the franchise to the top of the league in 2010. The Aces tapped former import Diamon Simpson in place of Antonio Campbell with one more game.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJul 6th, 2018

Kolarov scores from free kick, Serbia beats Costa Rica 1-0

By ANNE M. PETERSON ,  AP Sports Writer SAMARA, Russia (AP) — Aleksandar Kolarov scored from a left-footed free kick in the 56th minute and Serbia opened its World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica on Sunday. After David Guzman was handed a yellow card, Kolarov curled the ensuing free kick over the wall. Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who plays for Real Madrid, couldn't reach it. Serbia, which missed out on the 2014 tournament, had the early advantage in a tough group that includes five-time champion Brazil and Switzerland. After a scoreless first half, Navas fought off a barrage of challenges to open the second with the boisterous Costa Rican fans cheering him on at Samara Arena. The final moments of the match were marked by a squabble on the sidelines as Nemanja Matic got into a tussle with a Costa Rican coach. Players from both teams rushed toward the scrum but it was quickly diffused. The Ticos were the surprise of the last World Cup, sweeping through to the quarterfinals in Brazil before being ousted by the Netherlands on penalties. It was the furthest the small Central American nation had advanced in soccer's premier tournament. But there was some uncertainty surrounding the Ticos after a pair of friendly losses heading into the World Cup, including a 4-1 rout by Belgium a week ago. Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic, who replaced Slavoljub Muslin last year, put together a veteran defense with Kolarov, who plays for Roma, and former Chelsea player Branislav Ivanovic. Also included were Manchester United midfielder Matic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who had an apparent falling out with Muslin but was brought to Russia by Krstajic. The opening half between Costa Rica and Serbia was back and forth from the start: Aleksandar Mitrovic's header missed the target in the opening minute and moments later Marco Urena's angled shot for Costa Rica was saved in the left corner by Vladimir Stojkovic. Ivanovic made his record 104th appearance for the national team, surpassing Dejan Stankovic's mark. The 34-year-old Ivanovic had matched Stankovic's record last Saturday in a 5-1 friendly win over Bolivia. Stankovic, known as "Deki," played for the national team from 1998-2013, through three different eras: Yugoslavia, Serbia-Montenegro and finally Serbia. Ivanovic currently plays for Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, but he's best known for his time at Chelsea (2008-17). Costa Rica defender Ronald Matarrita was ruled out of the World Cup earlier this week because of a right hamstring injury. He was replaced on the roster by Kenner Gutierrez. GROUP DYNAMICS Costa Rica advanced out of the group stage in Brazil with victories over Uruguay and Italy and a draw with England, but the country's players insisted in the run-up to Sunday's game that this team should not be judged on the past. "There's always a lot of talk about four years ago, but this is a new World Cup, a new history," Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzales said. "Some of us are repeating, but there are teammates who are playing their first World Cup. We know the eyes of the world are on us." Costa Rica will next face Brazil on Friday in St. Petersburg, while Serbia plays Switzerland on Friday in Kaliningrad. KEYS TO SUCCESS Milinkovic-Savic gave Navas a workout in the first half, and while he didn't score, he is clearly a potent weapon for Serbia. He challenged Navas in the 27th minute from just outside the box, but Navas fell on the ball. Navas also stopped Milinkovic-Savic's bicycle kick in front of goal in the 42nd minute, but it was ruled offside. Currently with Italian club Lazio, rumors have swirled that Manchester United might be interested in the dynamic 23-year-old Milinkovic-Savic......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 17th, 2018

Team manager Dan Palami hopes new coach re-energizes Azkals

With new head coach Terry Butcher set to join the Azkals as they begin preparations for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup and the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, there are already expectations from the Philippine National Men’s Football Team moving forward. And from team manager Dan Palami’s side, he expects the former England skipper to re-energize the Pinoy squad as they get ready for what’s set to be a crucial pair of tournaments in the coming months. “I expect him to bring new energy, his leadership when he was a player and as a coach in his clubs will be infectious and will give the players the high that’s needed, rejuvenate them and get them to prove themselves in the competitions that are about to come.” Palami told ABS-CBN Sports. (READ ALSO: Azkals captain Phil Younghusband excited to learn from new coach) The arrival of Butcher signals the end of the Thomas Dooley era for the Azkals.  Dooley, who handled the Philippine National Team from 2014 to 2018, steered the Azkals to their biggest win yet, one over Tajikistan to secure their spot in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in Philippine football history, in his final match with the team.  And while there was nothing but gratitude for what Dooley did with the team during his four year stint, Palami explains that changes needed to be made, even coming off the heels of the team's biggest victory in history.  "Believe you me, when everything seems to be looking up, then you have to prepare for that, because you usually see a lot of downs, but the good thing is, we’re up and down, up and down, but the general trend is going up." "We wanna make sure that that continues and even bring it up some more, and that’s why sometimes we have to make changes, it’s a catalyst that will make us perform better, I hope, because historically, that’s how it’s been. Everytime we make changes, people criticize it, people get anxious, but at the end of the day, we have shown that our perfomance has gotten better." Palami added.  Later this year, the Azkals will be participating in the Suzuki Cup, and it could be a shot at redemption after having crashed out of the semifinals in the tournament’s previous staging back in 2016. Barely two months after the Suzuki Cup, the Azkals embark on their most important journey yet, as they kick off their AFC Asian Cup campaign, the highest level they’ve ever been on. Being grouped with South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan in Group C, it’s definitely an uphill battle for the Azkals, given that the country is on the lower tier of the pool in terms of rankings. Palami says that defying the odds is nothing new to Butcher, who back in 2009 to 2013, took a relegated Inverness club back to the Scottish Premier League. “Let’s face it, the Philippines is not the most palatable country to coach, but I think with Coach Terry, he has been in similarly-situated conditions, although in club levels. When he was in Inverness, he achieved a great deal with such a small club with such a small budget.” “It’s kind of inspiring, it parallels the journey of the Azkals, na parang maybe he could do the same, and he’s shown that kind of spirit throughout these years, since that time. I’m looking forward to him sharing that experience and bringing that experience dito sa atin.” Palami added. With a new coach, a new coaching staff, and new beginnings, this could be the start of something grand for the Azkals. For Palami and the rest of the squad, it’s nothing but excitement for the coming months. “I think everybody’s excited. We look forward to the tandem of Terry and [Senior Football Adviser] Scott [Cooper] doing a lot for Philippine football and the Azkals.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Kompany exits early as Portugal holds Belgium to 0-0 draw

BRUSSELS (AP) — European champion Portugal held Belgium to a tame 0-0 draw Saturday, a result overshadowed by fears that defender Vincent Kompany may have sustained an injury early in the second half. Without waiting to be substituted, the injury-prone Kompany walked off shortly after the break after appearing to overstretch while making a defensive challenge. It was not immediately clear if he was injured or left the field as a precaution. The Manchester City defender's career has been blighted by injuries, but he appeared fit ahead of the pre-World Cup friendly at the King Baudouin stadium. Midfielder Kevin De Bruyne said it was too early to say whether 32-year-old Kompany was seriously hurt. "Maybe he only has something small to deal with," De Bruyne said. Kompany's departure was the major talking point in a disappointing goalless draw which underscored that Belgium's star-studded squad still has work to do if it is to live up to its billing as one of the favorites to win the World Cup in Russia. Belgium fans jeered their team off the pitch at full time. Portugal was without Cristiano Ronaldo, who was rested after winning the Champions League a week ago with Real Madrid. Without him, Portugal missed the handful of chances it managed to carve out. Portugal faces neighbor Spain, Iran and Morocco in Group B at the World Cup, while Belgium is in Group G alongside England, Panama and Tunisia. Belgium opened strongly, outplaying Portugal in the midfield, but could not turn its pressure into a goal. Portugal weathered the early storm and gradually took control. In the closing minutes of the first half, Bernardo Silva saw his powerful shot deflected just wide by City teammate Kompany and Gelson Martins shot across the face of the goal as Portugal came close to breaking the deadlock. Belgium's only serious effort of the opening half came when Yannick Carrasco shot just wide in the 31st minute. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez made four changes in the break, but the substitutes could not change the team's fortunes. Despite the Red Devils' wealth of midfield and attacking quality, it was left back Jan Vertonghen who came closest after the break. The Tottenham defender nearly marked his 100th appearance for Belgium with a goal, but saw Portugal goalkeeper Beto tip his effort over the bar just before the hour mark. "It wasn't bad, but we could do better," De Bruyne said. "We still have two or three weeks to get ready.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

ROS win gives Johnson final say in verbal war with White

  Reggie Johnson wasn't part of any scuffle during the highly-physical game between Rain or Shine and GlobalPort, but the Elasto Painters import was very much involved in a verbal war with his counterpart Malcolm White. "It was a tense conversation, I feel like Malcolm is a wild player but I'm going to leave it on the court and I don't want to bring it to the media," said Johnson. "We were going back and forth but it wasn't a friendly conversation so I will leave at that." But while Johnson didn't take part in any, White was the subject of two altercations in the fourth quarter---first with Rain or Shine guard Chris Tiu before going face to face with center Raymond A...Keep on reading: ROS win gives Johnson final say in verbal war with White.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsMay 21st, 2018

Rondo, Green serve up spicy subplot in NBA playoffs

By Brett Martel, Associated Press NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Rajon Rondo and Draymond Green have won NBA titles and never have been known to shy away from conflict on the court. Now their combustible convergence in the playoffs is providing spicy subplot to the Western Conference semifinal series between New Orleans and Golden State. “We’re here to fight,” Rondo said following New Orleans’ lopsided Game 3 victory that trimmed the Warriors’ series lead to 2-1. “With my guys on the court, I’m going to fight as hard as I can ... and do whatever it takes.” Green and Rondo had to be separated after whistles twice in the first three games — never mind some other antics in the flow of the game — and they’ll be back at it again in one of two pivotal Game 4s to be played on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). The other pits Houston against Utah in a series that the Rockets lead 2-1. The Rondo-Green sideshow is compelling because of what both players mean to their teams. They are not the type of trash-talking, loud-mouths who otherwise play marginal roles. They are accomplished leaders who produce. Rondo had 21 assists in Game 3, while Green nearly had a triple-double with 11 points, 12 rebounds and nine assist. It just so happens they also are renowned for their masterful command of psychological gamesmanship. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry might have the best perspective; he’s coached them both. Gentry was a Warriors assistant on Golden State’s 2015 championship team and maintains a friendly off-court relationship with Green. “If he’s on your team you love him and if he’s not on your team you despise him — and to me those are the kind of players that I like to have,” Gentry said of Green. “I appreciate who he is and how he plays because he’s all about winning. And if you’re verbally weak, he’s going to take advantage of that.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr calls Green his team’s “heart and soul,” and its “engine.” Kerr also added lightheartedly that the fact Green hasn’t been assessed a technical foul in the postseason is “one of the great stats in this year’s playoffs.” Green bristled at the notion that he started any of the dust-ups with Rondo, insinuating that Rondo was the instigator. He asserted that his awareness of Rondo’s intentions is why he hasn’t been suckered into escalations that could result in a technical foul or ejection. “I’m not an idiot,” Green said. “I can see what they’re trying to accomplish a mile away.” Green added: “At some point, somebody’s got to tell the truth. It ain’t Draymond this time.” But Green has been in the face of other Pelicans players, tangling with All-Star Anthony Davis behind the play in one instance and yelling at the Pelicans’ bench in another. Green’s antics even agitated TNT studio host and former player Charles Barkley, who said he wanted to punch Green in the face. Barkley later apologized for his word choice, if not the sentiment. Pelicans forward Solomon Hill explained that Rondo — accomplished, playoff-savvy veteran that he is — seeks to neutralize Green’s psychological effect by taking on a “big brother” role for the Pelicans. “If somebody’s yelling in your ear, you’re going to get to a point where it’s about respect,” Hill said, referring to Rondo by his nickname, ‘Do.’ “And that’s kind of where ‘Do’ is. ’Do’s like: ‘We’re going to be respected. You’re not going to come out here and dance around and disrespect us as competitors.’” A closer look at Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) games: WARRIORS AT PELICANS Warriors lead 2-1. Game 4, 3:30 p.m. EDT (3:30am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: Although the Warriors lead the series, the Pelicans have not lost at home yet in the playoffs and have improved considerably in each game since losing by 22 in the series opener. New Orleans lost by only five points in Game 2 and then won by 19 when the series shifted to New Orleans. KEEP AN EYE ON: Warriors stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. They combined to miss 36-of-59 shots in Game 3 and will be eager to regain their shooting strokes. “I still don’t think K.D. or Steph was aggressive enough,” Green said. “I’ve said to both of them, I need them to be aggressive. They’re our guys. That’s who we’re going to to get buckets. We need them to be aggressive at all times and they’ll be that way” on Sunday. INJURY UPDATE: Curry will be in his third game back after missing more than a month with a sprained left knee. Kerr said he wasn’t surprised to see Curry’s production dip in his second game back. “Game 2 is always the hardest one after you come back from an injury,” Kerr said, adding that “it just takes some time,” for NBA players to regain their energy, legs and rhythm. PRESSURE IS ON: The Pelicans, who don’t want to go back to the West Coast down 3-1 and on the brink of elimination. “We’ve just got to avoid any kind of letdown,” Gentry said, adding that his players “understand who we’re playing and they understand the situation.” ROCKETS AT JAZZ Rockets lead 2-1. Game 4, 8 p.m. EDT (8am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: Following a surprising home loss in Game 2, the Rockets roared back to life in Game 3, picking apart the Jazz on both ends of the court. A fast start, highlighted by a 39-point first quarter, put Houston back on track. The Rockets shot 59 percent from the field before halftime and never looked back. “From the beginning of the game, we made a conscious effort to get stops and offensively push the pace and get shots, and we did that,” Rockets guard James Harden said. KEEP AN EYE ON: Rockets sixth man Eric Gordon has been a tough cover for the Jazz. Gordon broke out for 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Game 3, resembling what he did against Utah earlier, averaging 21 points on 48.4 percent shooting in three regular season meetings. ROOKIE STRUGGLES: Utah’s Donovan Mitchell is averaging 16 points on 32 percent shooting in the series while filling in at point guard for Ricky Rubi. He went just 4-of-16 for 10 points in Game 3. “I didn’t really do much,” Mitchell said. “That can’t happen. ... It’s like I would have been better off not showing up — and that’s what I did. I didn’t show up for my teammates. I’ll fix it.” PRESSURE IS ON: The Jazz. A second straight home loss would put Utah in the unenviable position of needing two victories in Houston to stay alive......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2018

PVL: New teams Tacloban, PayMaya clash in debut

Jovielyn Prado and the core of NCAA back-to-back champion Arellano University hopes to bring the same intensity and power when rookie team Tacloban goes into action against the Grethcel Soltones-led PayMaya on Sunday in the 2nd Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference. The battle begins at 2:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA and via livestream. Meanwhile, the men’s division duel between Vice Co. Blockusters and Philippine Army starts at 10:00 a.m. Prado will reunite with college teammates Anne Esguerra, Andrea Marzan, libero Eunice Galang and Regine Arocha to banner the Nes Pamilar-mentored Fighting Warays owned by Philippine Azkals team manager Dan Palami. Joining the crack crew are NCAA Season 93 Most Valuable Player Shola Alvarez, University of the East’s Judith Abil and Seth Rodriguez and UAAP Season 80 runner-ups Kyle Negrito and Heather Guino-o of Far Eastern University. Tacloban has Thai stars Amporn Hyapha and Sasiwilmol Sangpan as imports. They will face a High Flyers squad that is composed of last year’s Open Conference champion core. Soltones, a three-time NCAA MVP, will have Lizlee Ann Pantone, Jasmine Nabor, Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas, Jerrili Malabanan and Alyssa Eroa, all coming from last year’s Open Conference champion BaliPure, as her crew for the Roger Gorayeb-mentored team. Also in the team are Kat Villegas, Joyce Sta. Maria, FEU’s Czarina Carandang, Angel Cayuna and UAAP Season 80 Best Blocker Celine Domingo with imports Nicole Roundtree and Shelby Sullivan providing added firepower and muscles for the High Flyers.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Tunisia reorganizes after loss of Msakni

By Bouazza Ben Bouazza, Associated Press TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — With creative forward Youssef Msakni sidelined, Tunisia will be fielding a team at the World Cup that includes several foreign-born players. Msakni carried the team to its fifth World Cup, capped by a hat trick in the penultimate qualifier in Guinea, but he picked up a cruciate knee ligament injury while playing for his Qatari club. Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul is expected to use a group of foreign-born players, mainly from France. The move that could unsettle a team already in robust shape after being unbeaten in qualifying. Tunisia's squad is a mix of players mainly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, France and domestic leagues. Here's a closer look at the Tunisia team: COACH A former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002, Maaloul took over from Henri Kasperczak two matches into World Cup qualifying for his second spell as coach after a brief tenure in 2013. Maaloul played for Tunisia for a decade from 1985-95. One of very few African coaches in charge of a national team, he has transformed Tunisia from a fairly dour, defensive outfit to one more willing to attack since he took over after the African Cup of Nations in early 2017. He needs to ensure the decision to bring in new players at the expense of some of the men who got Tunisia to the World Cup doesn't upset the team balance or alienate squad members. GOALKEEPERS Maaloul's biggest decision may be the first name on the sheet after saying he was yet to decide. Aymen Mathlouthi, who is beginning to show frailties at 33 and after 11 years in the team, can no longer be certain of his starting spot. Maaloul must figure out whether to drop the captain and sacrifice experience for 28-year-old Farouk Ben Mustapha, who has been highly-praised in the Saudi league. DEFENDERS Maaloul said he was leaning toward starting the World Cup with the formation used in friendly wins over Iran and Costa Rica in March. That would see 22-year-old French-born Ellyes Skhiri, who made his debut against Iran after a late call-up, start in central defense. Other contenders are 24-year-old home-based player Yassine Meriah, the experienced Syam Ben Youssef and Mohamed Amine Ben Amor. If it's a four-man back line, expect to see right back Dylan Bronn, another French-born newcomer. Ali Maaloul has been a regular on the left. Both can also operate as wingers in a five-man midfield if Tunisia goes with a three-man defense of big, strong center backs. MIDFIELDERS The challenge of filling the void left by Msakni will likely fall on France-born attacking midfielder Wahbi Khazri. He played for the Tunisia and France youth teams before committing to Tunisia. Khazri was partnered in the center of midfield by Anice Badri in Tunisia's last match — forming a potent attacking threat. They are all versatile, operating as attacking midfielders or in a more advanced position in the forward line. Saif-Eddine Khaoui is a similar attack-minded midfielder who has forced himself into the team's plans. Ferjani Sassi has the role of shoring up the middle of the field as the holding midfielder. FORWARDS Depending on whether Khazri, Badri, Sliti and newcomer Khaoui are deployed, there may be room for one or perhaps no out-and-out strikers. Ahmed Akaichi and Taha Yassine Khenissi have experience of operating alone up front but recent formations could mean Tunisia's forward line will be based on the versatility of the four attacking midfielders. GROUP GAMES Tunisia plays England on June 18 and then face Belgium on June 23 before finishing Group G against Panama on June 28......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 1st, 2018

2018 WORLD CUP: Tactical tinkering for Mexico

By Carlos Rodriguez, Associated Press MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexicans can never be sure who will be playing for the national team under Juan Carlos Osorio. A different lineup has been deployed by Osorio in all 44 games in charge and now players are starting to question the tactical tinkering going into the World Cup. "It's time to stop with the experiments," goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa said. "We have to focus on how we play as a team." Osorio, who replaced fan favorite Miguel Herrera in 2015, isn't budging. The Colombian has no plans to change the strategy because it carried Mexico to the World Cup as the top-place team in CONCACAF qualifying for the first time in two decades. But changing formations depending on the opponent hasn't fared well in all competitions. "A lot of people said that the past few years have been good, but I'm not so sure about that," Manuel Lapuente, who coached Mexico at the 1998 World Cup, told The Associated Press. "We were a failure in the Copa America Centenario. We failed at the Gold Cup and in the Confederations Cup. We did well in the qualifiers, but, guess what? We are not going to play against that kind of rival in Russia". The Mexicans were consigned to their worst-ever loss in the 2016 Copa America Centenario quarterfinals, trounced 7-0 by Chile. In a pair of semifinals last year they were beaten 4-1 by Germany in the Confederations Cup and lost 1-0 to Jamaica in the Gold Cup. Progress for Mexico at the World Cup would be reaching the quarterfinals after failing to advance from the round of 16 at six successive editions. Only when the Mexicans hosted the World Cup did they make the last eight — in 1970 and 1986. Here's a closer look at the Mexico team: COACH Osorio, a former conditioning coach at Manchester United under Alex Ferguson, won four league titles in Colombia and was managing Sao Paulo before taking over his first job as a national coach with Mexico in 2015. Osorio's success in Colombia, where he won the championship with Once Caldas and three more with Atletico Nacional, was based on the same tactical fluidity that he brought to Mexico. His 44 games with Mexico have seen 29 wins, eight draws and seven losses. GOALKEEPERS Guillermo Ochoa, who has made 92 appearances since his international debut in 2005, is renowned in Mexico for an outstanding save from Neymar's header at the 2014 World Cup. The 32 year-old "Memo," who plays for Standard Liege in Belgium, will be making the World Cup trip but he might not be guaranteed to start every game. Osorio is considering using either Jesus Corona or Alfredo Talavera in the final Group F game against Sweden because Ochoa can struggle dealing with crosses. DEFENDERS Probably the weakest link on the team. Hector Moreno, who plays for Real Sociedad after a brief stint with Roma, is the strongest component of the back line. Osorio likes to play with three center backs, but only Moreno is a guaranteed starter. Nestor Araujo of Santos is uncertain for the tournament after sustaining a knee injury in a friendly against Croatia in March, while Carlos Salcedo injured his collarbone in the same match and is racing to be fit for Russia. Oswaldo Alanis, Hugo Ayala and Edson Alvarez could take over but all lack international experience. MIDFIELDERS This department is the team's strength. Hirving Lozano, who has scored 16 goals for PSV Eindhoven in the Dutch league, should start on the left wing. Carlos Vela, who joined Los Angeles FC from Real Sociedad last year, currently has the edge to start on the other flank rather than Jesus Corona of Porto. Andres Guardado (Real Betis) will play in the center in his fourth World Cup alongside Hector Herrera, whose Porto teammate is set to be the defensive midfielder. FORWARDS Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez remains the main striker heading into the tournament, but Raul Jimenez is having a strong season with Benfica and giving the West Ham striker a run for his money. Oribe Peralta, who led Mexico to the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics, is the third striker. Coach Osorio likes to use a formation with a withdrawn striker, a position where Giovani Dos Santos, Marco Fabian and Rodolfo Pizarro are contesting the starting position. GROUP GAMES Mexico opens Group F against World Cup holder Germany on June 17 in Moscow where it has its tournament base. Then there's a trip to Rostov-on-Don to face South Korea on June 23, followed by a June 27 meeting with Sweden in Yekaterinburg......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 30th, 2018

Ahead of biggest match in history, Thomas Dooley wants the Azkals to go back to ‘enjoying football’

In the coming week, the Philippine Azkals find themselves back on the pitch as they’re set to play twice, in an International Friendly match against Fiji on Thursday, March 22nd, in their final 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifier match against Tajikistan on Tuesday, March 27th, both at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Manila. While the match against Fiji is just a friendly and will serve as a tuneup, the match against Tajikistan is quite possibly the most important match in Philippine football history. A win next Tuesday sends the Azkals into the AFC Asian Cup tournament for the first time in history. And to make sure that they Azkals play at their best in both those games, head coach Thomas Dooley wants to see his boys having fun on the pitch. “The most important thing that I want to see is the players having fun, enjoying the game, enjoying football, because that’s the main focus that we had in this camp, we want to have a positive camp,” said Dooley during the pre-match press conference, Wednesday. After beginning the Group Stage of the qualifiers with back-to-back wins against Nepal and Tajikistan in early-mid 2017, the Azkals went on a three-month stretch that saw them draw all their succeeding Qualifiers matches, including a 0-0 draw in their second round go-around against Nepal. A win would have already sealed the Philippines’ spot in the AFC tournament. Now, ahead of their upcoming matches, Dooley says that he’s liking what he’s seeing from the team. “I can see that in the last couple of days, we only had two days, three and a half, but I can see that it’s a great atmosphere that we have, and just would see that in the game [Thursday] that they’re enjoying to be there, playing nice football, and the playing the way we would like to play against Tajikistan.” While having fun is an important aspect of the game, Dooley isn’t losing sight of the ultimate task, which is to get wins. “We want to win those games of course, we want to win any game, but if I have to make a choice between winning games tomorrow and Tajikistan, I would rather lose [on Thursday] and win against Tajikistan, but it’s not like that in life. You have to always prepare for every single game.” “Players have to take it serious, and the most important thing I want to see is the players enjoying to be back on the field, with a fresh mind and a fresh brain and fresh legs and bodies, and this is something I would like to see, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to see that.” Dooley added.   Catch the Azkals as they take on Fiji in an International Friendly Match on Thursday, March 22nd, LIVE on LIGA channel 86 and LIGA HD channel 183. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM.  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 21st, 2018

Philippine Azkals back with high spirits, high morale ahead of important matches

New year, fresh start. Heading into an important pair or matches, the Philippine Azkals have been refreshed and rejuvenated, according to team captain Phil Younghusband. Speaking at the pre-match press conference for their International Friendly match against Fiji on Thursday, March 22nd, Younghusband shared that there’s an overall upbeat feeling among the members of the men’s senior national football team. “I think definitely, being with the players three or four times now, spirits are high, everyone’s happy to be with each other.” The Azkals’ match against Fiji will serve as a tuneup for arguably the most important match in Philippine football history, their match against Tajikistan in the final matchday of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday, March 27th. A win over Tajikistan will ensure the Azkals’ entry into the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, a first in Philippine football. When the Azkals saw action in the Asian Cup Qualifiers in early November of 2017, ‘fresh’ wouldn’t be an accurate way to describe the players. The Azkal’s last three AFC Asian Cup Qualifier matches happened within a span of three months, and majority of the National Team callups also had club duties to attend to. Simply put, the players were quite tired. “I think coach mentioned earlier, I think this time around, compared to last year, we had a busier schedule last year and players were doing a lot of travelling, so when we were together, you could sense an air of tiredness,” Younghusband added. Now, the Azkals are coming into their next pair of matches coming off a four-month break and with a lighter schedule. Already, Younghusband sees a change in the atmosphere. “During this camp, everyone seems to have more energy, everyone seems to be laughing more, everyone seems to be smiling more, everyone seems to be more confident,” “I think going into the next two games, against Fiji and against Tajikistan, the players’ morale is very high, it’s good to see.” Younghusband added.   Catch the Azkals as they take on Fiji in an International Friendly Match on Thursday, March 22nd, LIVE on LIGA channel 86 and LIGA HD channel 183. Kickoff is at 7:30 PM......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 21st, 2018