Thrust into a new position, Phil Younghusband got rave reviews from coach Thomas Dooley.
“Outstanding,” Dooley said, referring to the performance of the Azkals leading scorer who dropped deep at midfield in the 2-1 win over Bahrain Thursday night.
Younghusband assisted on Misagh Bahadoran’s goal in the 50th minute.
But the 27-year-old admitted that he’s still learning on his new role.
“I gave the ball away a few times, but I’m always eager to get on the ball. That’s the more important thing. Whatever happens, you make an option for everyone and show that you’re confident with the ball,” he said. “I think the more and more I play on that role, the better I’ll get.”
Younghusband said the role demanded more from him physically.
“My body is hurting but the win makes it worth it. That’s probably the farthest I’ve got in my Azkals career. It was all worth it as long as we got the win. Everyone gave their 100-percent,” he said.
Younghusband was instrumental in the victory, assisting on the opening goal by Misagh Bahadoran in the 50th minute as he crossed the ball to the penalty box.
“Actually, I saw two guys: (Javier) Patiño and Misagh. I knew if I put it on a good area, one of them is going to get a good touch and Misagh got a fantastic touch,” he said. “It was good to have that first goal. If they had the first goal, it would have been a difficult game. I’m glad that we got the first goal and that gave us the confidence to get the second.”
The win gave the country the full three points in its opening match in Group H, and Younghusband believes that the win is just the morale boost the team needs as they square off against Yemen on June 16 in Doha, Qatar.
“We’ve beaten the second strongest team in our group, but Yemen will still be strong. This game will give us confidence going into that game, and we know it’s not going to be easy. There are no easy games especially in this group,” he said. CFC
Phil Younghusband was unfazed as he played midfielder in the Philippines’ 2-1 win against Bahrain in the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers last Thursday at the Philippine Sports Stadium.
Younghusband, who was named skipper against Bahrain, relished the win against Bahrain to kick start their World Cup qualifying campaign despite cramping up late in the match.
“My body was hurting (after the match),” said Younghusband “It’s probably the farthest I’ve run in my whole Azkals career. But it was all worth it as long as we got the win.”
Partnered with Manny Ott in midfield, Younghusband felt that the more chances he plays in midfield, the better he will be in the future games.
“I gave away the ball a few times (against Bahrain),” added Younghusband. “The most important thing is that you always make an option for everyone and make sure you are confident with the ball.”
The skipper was also delighted that he provided the assist for Misagh Bahadoran’s opener in the 50th minute.
“I actually looked up before I played the ball. I saw Patiño and Misagh (Bahadoran) and I knew that if I put it into a good area, one of them will get a good touch,” recounted Younghusband. “Misagh got a fantastic touch, and it was just good enough to provide the first goal.”
With the Yemen match just a few days ahead, Younghusband admitted that they “are in a good position” to get a second win in group H, but is keeping himself grounded. “There are no easy games in this group,” said Younghusband.
“We’ve probably beaten the second strongest team in our group, but Yemen will be strong,” added the midfielder. “A win (over Yemen) is not going to be easy.” — CAL
According to Azkals midfielder Phil Younghusband, their main goal was to win the first two games of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and they were able to deliver.
The Azkals enjoyed their first two outings in the Qualifiers with a 2-1 win against Bahrain at home, and a 2-0 win against Yemen in Qatar, to place second in Group H.
Had the Azkals dropped points against either Bahrain or Yemen, it would have been a tougher task at hand for the team according to the midfielder.
“Coach told us the least we can do is to win the (first) two games and we are able to do that,” said Younghusband. “Knowing we have two wins, we are in a good position (in the group).”
Younghusband lauded the system coach Thomas Dooley’s implemented in the team. One big change was Younghusband playing in midfield after having played as striker for the longest time.
“It feels different, but at the end of the day, it’s working.” explained the midfielder. “It gives us success, results, and it allows us to play very well with players that can adapt in different positions and that was shown in the first two games.”
Dooley expounded on the decision to put Younghusband in midfield.
“Phil (Younghusband) played forward because he can score goals, but he (really) is a midfielder,” said Dooley about Younghusband’s placement on the pitch. It is also interesting to note that while Younghusband became popular as a striker, he always wears a number 10 jersey. That number is classically given to central midfield players — the strikers or forwards wear jersey number 9.
Younghusband also cited situations where his teammates were able to adapt to the system.
“You have Jerry (Lucena) playing more defensive, (Daisuke) Sato playing more inside, me playing deep and you have Luke (Woodland) who is a midfielder but playing central defense,” elaborated Younghusband.
The Azkals continue their World Cup Qualifiers campaign with a match against Uzbekistan on September 8 at the Philippine Sports Stadium.
To be the best, one must continue to grow. This common quote applies to different fields of life, especially in competitive sports. In the Philippines’ professional football scene, one player who certainly embodies this is Phil Younghusband.
At a young age, Philip James Younghusband showed great offensive potential throughout his years in Chelsea’s youth academy, and later in the reserves. In 2005, a fortunate discovery of his Filipino roots led to him being recruited by the Philippine Football Federation. Ten years and 42 international goals later, not only is he the most prolific goalscorer in the nation’s history, he’s also a major influencer in Philippine football.
From the very beginning, Phil excelled in the striker position. His ability to calmy control and dribble the ball past defenders, along with his deadly finishing, provided a bedrock to the Philippine team’s capacity to surpass expecatations over the years.
These contributions have also applied on the club stage, where the Loyola Meralco Sparks have won the UFL Cup and the National Club Championship – thanks in large part to Phil’s massive goal totals. On a personal level, his offensive prowess has seen him earn numerous achievements, marked by several Top Goal Scorer awards, and an MVP in the triumphant UFL Cup run in 2013.
Today, though, Phil has moved beyond the role of a striker. He has further developed his passing skills and has acquired key defensive attributes in order to add diversity to his game, as seen in recent matches for both club and country.
Instead of a single-minded focus on scoring goals, Younghusband, at times, has been asked to affect games from a deeper position, where his range of passing and defense have come to the fore. And while his scoring totals might have suffered in the process, he has excelled in dictating tempo, creating opportunities, and breaking up opposition attacks.
Given his stature as the nation’s greatest goalscorer, it seemed an odd idea to place him in a different position. And perhaps if someone else was in his shoes, it could’ve been possible that the notion be publicly criticized. But of course, that never happened. Phil welcomed the adjustment with minimal fuss, displaying his nature to put the team’s aspirations as the top priority – regardless of his position.
Younghusband’s ability to adapt allows him to contribute to the game in more than one manner. His emergence as an all-around player is not limited only in skill, but also in composure and leadership. Adding these improvements to his scoring talents, Phil has shown he can influence a match decisively in a variety of ways. And both the Loyola Meralco Sparks and the Philippine National Team stand to benefit from his evolution.
The itch to score will always be there for Phil Younghusband, and ahead of their crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against Uzbekistan tonight at the Philippine Sports Stadium, this still holds true.
The Azkals skipper, who is set to get his 74th international cap tonight, admitted that the Azkals journey has been a roller-coaster ride. Younghusband has been with the national team since 2005 and is the Philippines’ most capped player.
“It’s been amazing because we’ve seen football from one extreme to another and a lot of ups and downs,” said Younghusband. “From the time in Hanoi (in 2010), before in Bacolod in the SEA Games (in 2005), to even the games where there were no people at all, it’s amazing.”
Although known for his goalscoring ability, Younghusband was pushed down to central midfield in the Qualifiers and has thrived in that position. Even though the Azkals skipper has yet to score this year, team success — particularly a berth in the AFC Asian Cup at the least — is the main priority.
“If I don’t score and we reach the Asian Cup, I’ll be over the moon,” said the Loyola Meralco Sparks player. “I want us to advance to the Asian Cup and get as far as possible in the World Cup Qualifiers.”
The burden of scoring may be off his shoulders, but Younghusband is wary of Uzbekistan especially as he was name-dropped by coach Samvel Babayan as the player to be stopped. Nevertheless, the midfielder trusts his teammates to “create something out of nothing” against the Central Asians with Misagh Bahadoran, Javier Patiño, and Iain Ramsay all finding the back of the net for the Azkals in the Qualifiers.
“It’s flattering that to know that other teams are watching me, but it does mean that other players a free to create something,” continued Younghusband. “It gives me confidence when you play a simple ball to someone and they can can produce a moment of brilliance.”
The match against Uzbekistan will begin at 8:00 PM and will be live at ABS-CBN Sports and Action.
Imagine this: Phil Younghusband just scored the goal which sent the Philippines through to the 2018 World Cup. The Azkals captain scored the free kick after being fouled while running into the opposing team’s penalty area. Imagine that moment. At the final whistle, the whole Philippines is celebrating an achievement which was thought never to be possible. Fans in the stadium are rushing to be able to get a selfie with him. First thing he does after celebrating with his teammates is to look for his siblings, one of which James, shared the pitch with him while donning the national colors and playing in the UFL for the Loyola Meralco Sparks.
This moment may not occur anytime soon with the Philippines grouped against strong countries like Uzbekistan and North Korea, then again there’s nothing wrong in hoping for and visualizing that moment isn’t it?
Not that the man cares about personal glory that much. The Azkals striker turned midfielder has his sights set on victories for the team. Perhaps it was being made skipper which made him this way or the change of his position on the pitch which has developed this mindset. Regardless, it is great that arguably the most talented player of the Philippines has this selflessness in him. The game against Uzbekistan will be his 74th cap for the Philippines and he’s just eight goals shy of fifty for his country but he values team glory more now. “Honestly I would like to reach 50 goals but my priority is to see the team win. You know if I don’t score but the team qualifies for the Asian Cup, I’ll be over the moon. That’s the priority for me but you know when I look back at my career I’d like to say I got over 50 goals and 100 caps but to be honest I’m not thinking about that right now. I’m thinking about let’s get to the Asian Cup and getting as far as possible for the World Cup qualifiers” Younghusband said.
In Football, it is common for players who have aged to drop lower in terms of in-game position. We have seen it so many times with players like Steven Gerrard who played behind the striker at his peak eventually had a quarterback role in his later years. The same transformation is being seen with Younghusband.
Phil Younghusband 2
While said to be a central midfielder when he was at Chelsea, Azkals fans have seen him more as a striker. Not that the man has any qualms about his current role as a midfielder for the Azkals with longevity his aim. “As you get older you can’t cover the field as much you know. You can’t get up and down you know. When you see the natural progression of players, Dwight Yorke he was a striker then he got moved to defensive midfield, a lot of players move into positions where they can use their experience to their advantage to prolong their careers. I’d like to play as long as possible so hopefully that’s the case.”
Being played as a striker during the peak of his career with the Azkals and the Meralco Sparks, no one can begrudge Younghusband if his first instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later. He admitted that was in his head during the last World Cup qualifier against Yemen when the Azkals were 2-0 up and he used the free kick to score rather than to use a set-piece play used in training. Now however, he has to take a backseat and act as a playmaker compared to the striker he once was for the Azkals. “Obviously I like to be involved and work hard to score the goals but when you’ve got players that could create something out of nothing, you know I enjoy watching it as much as doing it. So it gives you confidence knowing you can play a simple ball to someone to one of the players knowing they can create something and produce a moment of brilliance that can win you the game and as I said I want to be part of the team that wins and whether I’m involved in the goal or not, as long as the team in winning then that’s the objective, that’s the goal.”
As the captain of the Azkals not only does Younghusband need to wear the armband and shoulder responsibility for the Philippines, he also has to make sure that the group has a strong team spirit. The Azkals had a bowling session for teambuilding and it turned out quite well for the skipper’s team. “My team won the bowling. I scored one 31 in the first game that got us to the final but I didn’t have such a good second game but overall we won which is the most important thing so it was good.” Even if there is a mixture of old and new faces, Younghusband states that everyone gets along well with each other. “The team spirit is good at the moment.”
The coach of Uzbekistan declared in their team’s press conference that Younghusband is the Azkal to watch out for. Mentioning past games like the post-2010 AFF Suzuki Cup one against Mongolia in Bacolod, Younghusband said that while being watched all the time flatters and makes it harder for him to play, space opens up more and his teammates can contribute more. “It does relief pressure knowing you can give the ball to someone and they can create something”, he adds. He then concluded that it’s not only him the Uzbeks have to watch out for but the ten men playing alongside him as well.
Younghusband has been playing for the Philippines since his first South East Asian games up this point against a fearsome Uzbekistan. He notes that it has been one extreme to another, from irrelevance to the target of qualifying for the Asian Cup. From having no people watching the Azkals’s games to the target of filling up the Philippine Arena, it’s been a roller coaster ride for the skipper and he sure knows how big a part the FIlipino fans can play in a game.
BoyBacolod: If some UAAP or NCAA schools will join the new league in one form or another, it may remove the gap between U22s and seniors. The schools can devise a system akin to sports academies, education is important after all.
Feb 28, 2019 18:16:35 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: Will the PFL be like the San Marino league system, where there are no so-called "home" stadiums.
Mar 2, 2019 12:39:19 GMT 8
leoisiah: Gibraltar also has a single stadium for their league.
Mar 12, 2019 8:27:57 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: Rules are rules are rules. The two clubs should have known better. They are given loads of time to act on it. And to those who say PFF sucks, sometimes they do but one thing they are consistent is sticking to the rules.
Mar 25, 2019 10:42:16 GMT 8
truman: Agree @boybacolod
Mar 25, 2019 14:49:21 GMT 8
truman: lowkey cringe sa conyoness ng PPL FB page.
Apr 8, 2019 10:11:23 GMT 8
truman: sad day for philippine football
Apr 27, 2019 13:22:38 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: Why I like UAAP football, no more extra games for seeding.Makes me think about European efficiency. Wish gayahin din sa basketball (very sketchy tiebreakers), like Euroleague.
May 8, 2019 14:02:35 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: Negros Occidental footy fans, expect more football this 2019, now that a San Carlos native is governor.
May 14, 2019 2:05:22 GMT 8
Jun 9, 2019 18:39:47 GMT 8
@BoyBacolod: Hamak na mungkahi lang. Mabuti siguro kung maipromote ulit ang larong sipa. Daming maling sa sipa na mga bata, mabuting transistion for futsal, kung hindi regular football. Parang sa Thailand, sepak takraw, o chinlone sa Myanmar.
Jul 24, 2019 19:12:53 GMT 8
bluedevil2k8: guys please support the across the line podcast
Sept 16, 2019 19:18:16 GMT 8
papajamba: listening now to simone rota - across the line podcast
Sept 16, 2019 23:48:32 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: As long as Ricky Yanson is professional to Ceres FC and extends support to the Azkals in general (Ceres Azkals in particular) during home games, he can be PFF president in my book. Much better will be reconciling with Leo, though that idea is Farfetch'd.
Sept 21, 2019 23:07:36 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: Kaya fans wishing that Ricky Yanson wins the PFF presidency is akin to GMA fans wishing that Congress and President Duterte will not renew ABS-CBN's franchise.
Oct 24, 2019 21:10:39 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: We will wait for the basketball and volleyball ASEAN teams and then we compare their reception to that given to the football delegations, where ALL ASEAN nations participate. Now there will be foreign scrutiny in every move of PHISGOC.
Nov 24, 2019 23:20:26 GMT 8
BoyBacolod: DDS trolls underestimated the SEA football community. Having no prior exposure to football culture, they dismiss any and all so-called sabotages as destabilization plots, to the point that they do not support the teams, especially the women.
Nov 27, 2019 15:25:36 GMT 8
Passerby: That's awkwardly worded.
Mar 6, 2020 21:09:41 GMT 8
Jun 3, 2020 11:29:52 GMT 8
nil: anyone have any ADT FC's contact?
Jun 3, 2020 11:30:08 GMT 8