Only Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Germany, Uruguay, Italy, France, Spain, and England were the countries fortunate enough to lift the FIFA World Cup Trophy. Do we have what it takes to win it all?
In the buildup to the first round series with the Philippines, the Sri Lankans drew with higher-ranked Tajikistan in 2-all score. If the AFC Challenge Cup is the barometer for comparisons, both teams defeated Bangladesh in a 3-0 scoreline. Interestingly, Sri Lanka defeated Brunei 5-1 and Chinese Taipei 2-1 while settling for a draw with Pakistan 2-2. The Sri Lankans have a competitive professional league that the Filipinos don’t enjoy so it is quite an intriguing match for a cohesive Sri Lankan team against Philippine team composed of Fil-Foreigners with overseas football experience.
Just wondering if former Sri Lankan Ronnie Nathanielsz would be the color commentator for this all-important World Cup qualifier for the Philippines. I prefer the Brit-speak of Darren Hartmann on television though.
The Azkals may have a hard time in the first leg but I would think that it would end in a 1-1 draw with the host taking an early lead and Phil Younghusband taking the end-game heroics with a late 2nd half goal to even things up. The Philippine team would be in a must win situation and will take a 2-0 home win at the Panaad to book their place in the second round with another home/away series with Kuwait.
Kuwait “Al-Azraq” (FIFA Rank 101) vs Philippines “Azkals” (FIFA Rank 151)
Honestly, this is the biggest challenge that the Azkals have to face early in the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers because surviving Kuwait may be our ticket to the group stages and eventually in the entire qualification process. Kuwait has a relatively successful performance in football tournament these past few years. They won the recent Gulf Cup of Nations by defeating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the 2010 tournament in Yemen. They were also the winners of the 2010 West Asian Cup. With Serbian coach Goran Tufegdzic at the helm, the Blues, as they are called, are expected to make the game difficult for Michael Weiss and the rest of the team.
The team has previously qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup in France where they became infamous for their walkout in the game against the host country where they lost 4-1. In the recent World Cup qualifiers, Kuwait reached the third round of the AFC qualifying round but lost to Syria and UAE with a draw to Iran.
On July 23, 2011, the Al-Sadaqua Walsalam Stadium will kick off the series with the Azkals on hostile territory needing at least a draw or an away goal to ensure a good chance to move on to the next round. Unfortunately, the Azkals need to weave their magic to pull out a win in the host country’s playing pitch as the Philippines remained winless on the host country’s turf since a dramatic win over Vietnam in the recently concluded AFF Suzuki Cup. The rematch would be on July 28 at the Panaad Stadium or perhaps at the antiquated Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Led by midfielder Waleed Ali (73 caps), proflific goalscorer Bader Al-Mutwa (38 goals in 55 international appearances), and defensive specialists Musaed Neda (67 caps) and Yaquob Al Taher (46 caps), the Kuwaiti team is expected to frustrate the Azkals’ offensive formation of the Younghusbands and Ian Araneta.
The Kuwaitis may probably win the first leg with a comfortable margin considering the fact that they have a pretty competitive team. In this case, the Azkals need to win at home on a big margin to move on to the group stages.
Malaysia vs Chinese Taipei 3-0, 1-1 (MAS wins 4-1)
Bangladesh vs Pakistan 2-0, 1-0 (BAN wins 3-0)
Cambodia vs Laos 3-0, 2-0 (CAM wins 5-0)
Sri Lanka vs Philippines 1-1, 0-2 (PHI wins 3-1)
Afghanistan vs Palestine 1-2, 1-0 (PAL wins on away goals)
Vietnam vs Macau 4-0, 2-0 (VIE wins 6-0)
Nepal vs Timor-Leste 2-1, 2-1 (NEP wins 4-2)
Mongolia vs Myanmar 3-2, 2-1 (MNG wins 5-3)
Thailand vs Palestine 2-1, 0-2 (PAL wins 3-2)
Lebanon vs Bangladesh 2-0, 1-0 (LEB wins 3-0)
China vs Cambodia 3-1, 3-0 (CHN wins 6-1)
Turkmenistan vs Indonesia 2-1, 1-0 (TRK wins 3-1)
Kuwait vs Philippines 1-0, 0-2 (PHI wins 2-1)
Oman vs Mongolia 1-0, 1-0 (OMN wins 2-0)
Saudi Arabia vs Hong Kong 5-0, 4-0 (SAU wins 9-0)
Iran vs Maldives 6-1, 5-0 (IRI wins 11-1)
Syria vs Tajikistan 2-3, 1-0 (TAJ wins on away goals)
Qatar vs Vietnam 4-1, 2-1 (QAT wins 6-2)
Iraq vs Yemen 2-0, 2-0 (IRQ wins 4-0)
Singapore vs Malaysia 1-2, 0-1 (MAS wins 3-1)
Uzbekistan vs Kyrgyzstan 1-0, 0-0 (UZB wins 1-0)
UAE vs India 1-0, 1-0 (UAE wins 2-0)
Jordan vs Nepal 2-0, 3-0 (JOR wins 5-0)
Top Five Teams: Japan, South Korea, Australia, North Korea, Bahrain
Qualifiers: Palestine, Lebanon, China, Turkmenistan, Philippines, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Tajikistan, Qatar, Iraq, Malaysia, Uzbekistan, UAE, Jordan
Japan, Jordan, Oman, Malaysia
South Korea, China, Tajikistan, UAE
Australia, Palestine, Oman, Iraq
North Korea, Philippines, Iran, Qatar
Bahrain, Lebanon, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia
The predictions are just my own opinion as to how the outcome of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers would be like. If you want to check how it works, try playing the 2010 FIFA World Cup video game on PS3 or XBox 360. You have to understand that the Philippines does not exist on the game. Use your imagination and examine the game of football in other countries.