Michael Weiss laments lack of 'basics' as Azkals throw away lead in defeat to Chinese Taipei

After narrowly beating Nepal last week, Philippines fell to their first defeat in Michael Weiss' second stint at the helm after throwing away a lead to lose 3-2 to Chinese Taipei on Monday. RM Chua/Philippine Football Federation

Chinese Taipei overcame a one-goal deficit, a soggy pitch, a boisterous crowd and a non-stop downpour to stun Philippines 3-2 in their international friendly on Monday night.

It was a result for the Azkals that was just as gloomy as the weather as they squandered a 2-1 lead by surrendering two goals in the second half, both off counter attacks by Chinese Taipei, with the winning goal coming in the 90th minute.

The match was full of twists and turns right from the opening whistle.

In just the second minute, Chinese Taipei went ahead after Wu Yen-shu's free kick ricocheted off Mike Ott's shoulder past Neil Etheridge and into the goal.

Ott would make amends ten minutes later, converting a penalty kick after he was fouled in the box.

The match was temporarily halted in the first as the rain continued to pour, and for a brief moment there was a discussion about possibly calling it off --but eventually play continued.

Patrick Reichelt, sporting a bandage on his forehead after he suffered a gash following a clash of heads with a Nepalese defender last Thursday, put the Azkals ahead with a lovely flick in the 39th minute from right flank.

But Chinese Taipei came out of the halftime break with renewed energy, equalizing in the 58th minute on Yu Yao-hsing's strike from close range off a long ball before finally surging ahead right at the death minute after Lin Ming-wei gathered the rebound off of a save from Etheridge to find the back of the net.

Chinese Taipei were clearly the fitter and more organized side in the second half, as the lack of conditioning that Philippines coach Michael Weiss warned about finally caught up with the Azkals.

"What a game for the crowd that came out," Chinese Taipei coach Garry White said.

"It was raining, it was lightning, it was very fast paced from end to end, and I think we came out the deserved winners today. The players never gave up.

"We knew at halftime it was going to be difficult for Philippines to stay with us, so we were patient. And it worked out today. It was a great game to be involved in.

"Just from the analysis from the Nepal game, we could see the team struggled towards the end of the game. We knew (Philippines) got a lot of injuries in the first game. And we were just patient.

"We knew that the strength wasn't on the bench. It was a very young bench that they had.

"So at halftime, the message was, 'No problem. Stay in the game, It's going to open up, and we will make the correct subs at the right time and we will change the game.'

"The impact players were fantastic. They did exactly what we wanted them to do. We knew it was going to be tough in the first 45 minutes, very physical, but we also knew that we are faster. We're probably fitter, and we were ready for the end of the game.

"But always, against Michael's team, it's always difficult to play against. They always fight to the end. So we knew it was going to be a physical battle."

Weiss totally agreed with White's assessment.

"I think in the first half we were very much in the game," he said. "(We were) a little bit lucky here or there. We had a 2-1 lead with morale and with spirit.

"Then in the second half, even morale and spirit could not help us in crucial situations. If you do not have the basics right, if you come into a camp like this with a fitness (level) like many players did, eventually you cannot cover up anymore.

"We lost (Kevin) Ingreso before the match, we had Manny Ott out, (Amani) Aguinaldo, (Santi) Rublico. The rest of the players, most of them not really in good shape, with few exceptions like (Kike) Linares, who was the discovery of this match.

"I do not want to blame the players. I think I cannot blame them because for sure they gave their all. They gave everything to cover so much space.

"We went up and down, up and down. But at the end of the day, if you have three or four players who cannot cover anymore, you get caught like we got caught.

"I must say, in all fairness, it was an absolutely deserved win for Chinese Taipei. Nevertheless, I think the potential is really there. I think we can see many, any more positives in the September-October window."

Match notes:

  • While this win over the Azkals was memorable since it came under very difficult circumstances, White said their draw against Thailand in their previous outing was just as huge. "It's always better to win than to tie," he claimed. "That's the reality. But the Thailand team that we played was world-class. It's the strongest team that they have. I think they're the strongest team in Southeast Asia at the moment. So that was a completely different game. This game was a bit slower. Both teams were tired form playing games a couple days before. Yeah, a win is always better than a tie, but to play Thailand like that is a massive success for us."

  • Weiss gave minutes to young prospects Gio Pabualan and Jared Pena, and although their debuts weren't exactly stellar, their exposure to this level of play is crucial to their development. "We took a risk also with the young players," said the newly-reappointed Azkals tactician. "We wanted to see them, give them a chance. But both were involved in part of the downfall in the second half. Again, not blaming. I needed to see in this window who can help us. It was a reality check today. They were nervous, they were overwhelmed a little bit. I can say it was wrong to bring them in. I take responsibility for that. But if I don't test them in a period like this, when do I see them? Training can never replace the real game situation."

  • The injury bug continued to hound the Azkals as Ingreso was a late scratch following an injury sustained the day before the match. Jarvey Gayoso also appeared to pull his hamstring early in the second half and had to be replaced by Pabualan. Mike Ott and Reichelt were also playing hurt. "We had so many warriors who were bleeding and fighting through, but at the end of the day it wasn't enough," Weiss noted.