EXPECT a rejigged starting lineup when the Azkals enter the second leg of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals against Singapore on Wednesday at the Lions’ den at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Azkals coach Michael Weiss hinted at "two, three" personnel changes after being unhappy with his team’s play, particularly in the midfield, in the first half of the scoreless draw against the Singaporeans in the first leg on Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
“Maybe we’ll make two, three changes,” the German mentor said ahead of the national side’s departure for the Lion City early Monday morning.
Set to reclaim his place in the starting eleven is Jerry Lucena, the Filipino-Danish defensive midfield ace who was recalled by his Danish professional club Esbjerg after playing in the first two games of the group stage against Thailand and Vietnam in Bangkok.
“He will help us have more ball possession in the midfield and to be calm in the buildup time,” Weiss said of the versatile 32-year-old Lucena.
Jason de Jong started in Lucena's place but Weiss felt the Filipino-Dutch midfielder failed to reprise his outstanding performance against Myanmar. Marwin Angeles came in for De Jong after intermission and did a better job facilitating the Azkals offense.
“This is always our crucial point,” Weiss explained. “If the midfield doesn’t work, if the midfield doesn’t show up for balls and doesn’t distribute the balls well, then our third balls become loose balls.
“We end up playing forty-five minutes of defense and no chance to create offensive actions,” Weiss added.