BANGKOK – The bench players delivered and may soon be rewarded.
Although the Philippine men’s football team lost to host team Thailand, 2-1, in the opener of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup on Saturday night, the Azkals still found a sense of consolation from substitutes Patrick Reichelt, Marwin Angeles, and Jeff Christiaens, who all provided the spark off the bench after the Azkals found themselves in a deep 2-0 hole in the first half.
While Angeles subbed for Phil Younghusband after the starting strike star got banged up following a head collision with a Thai booter, and Christiaens came in for skipper Chieffy Caligdong late in the first half, it was the crafty Reichelt who shone brightest among the substitutes.
Only a few minutes after replacing James Younghusband in the right wing in the 61st minute, Reichelt escaped his defender on the right flank and delivered the cross pass that led to Paul Mulders' goal for the Azkals in the 77th minute.
With trio’s performance, Azkals coach Michael Weiss is now looking at the probability of inserting one of them into the starting lineup for their next game against Vietnam on Tuesday.
“There’s a possibility because all the three players played well and we have better balance with Marwin Angeles at central midfield, and we need players who are 100 percent fit,” the German mentor said.
Although he will not be coaching the squad as he is automatically suspended after throwing the ball to a hobbled Thai player who was lying down on the pitch late in the Thailand match, Weiss remains confident the rest of his coaching staff, led by Edzel Bracamonte, can take over seamlessly.
“We make the preparations so that even my assistants can take on the (head-coaching) role," he said. "It’s obviously not the best situation, but we’ll make the best moves.”