Just a little over two years ago, I didn’t know any of the Azkals. Even in 2010 when the Philippine Men’s Football Team, who, despite being the underdogs in football on this side of the Earth, burst into the limelight and booked a slot in the semifinals of the AFF Suzuki Cup.
What got me following the boys in blue was their compelling story at that time.
Nobody expected the Azkals to advance to the final stages of the Suzuki Cup and when they did book a seat in the semis for the first time ever, they could not play a home game in front of Pinoy fans after the PFF leadership then waived the home game forcing our boys to play their supposed “home” game vs. Indonesia in hostile territory at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.
Imagine the injustice of playing a supposed home game before an 80,000-strong Indonesian football fans which included no less than Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Fast forward to the 2012 Suzuki Cup. The Philippines again booked its second appearance in the semi-finals after beating Vietnam 1-0 and Myanmar 2-0 in Group A, proving that their Cinderella run in 2010 at the Suzuki Cup was no fluke.
This time, the Azkals won’t be denied their much deserved home game. On December 8, Saturday, the Philippines will face-off with Singapore at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila and on September 12 in Singapore.
Will the Philippine Azkals win against the Singapore Lions?
Empirical data shows we can. In September, the Azkals beat the Lions 2-0 for the first ever in the Lion’s own home turf at the Jurong West Stadium in Singapore. The Philippines again beat Singapore 1-0 in a second friendly match last November 15 at the Cebu City Sports Center.
But, Singapore, a three-time AFF Suzuki Cup winner is by no means weak team.
Azkals team manager Dan Palami, speaking to Karlo Sacamos of Sports Interactive Network (spin.ph) says the Philippine Men’s Football Team cannot rest on its laurels. “We can’t count a lot on the results of the past. We just have to improve. We should be wary of them. Singapore has always been a strong team with a lot of quality.”
The Azkals and the Lions having faced each other head-to-head in the past three months means that both teams have had a first-hand experience of the enemy’s strong suits and weak spots. They should be able to read and predict each other. Still, I’d like to believe that Philippine Coach Michael Weiss and our boys have yet to fire all our cylinders. The Philippines can still come up with a surprise attack against Singapore on December 8 and 12.
Imagine that! The world’s most emotional people to face-off with the world’s least emotional country. It’s either a fiery finish or a cold clinical death!
Run for Justice
Please help my friends at the Prosecutors’ League of the Philippines and join the Visayas Leg of the “Run for Justice”series on December 9, 2012, Sunday.
The fun run, organized by prosecutors based in the cities and province of Cebu will have 16K, 6K and 3K categories.
The registration fee is pegged at P450 for 16K and includes a race singlet, bib, baller and finisher’s medal. The 6KM fee is P350 while the 3K category fee is P250 to include a race singlet, bib and baller. The last day for registration will be on December 7.
The race will have an out-and back route which will start and end at the Cebu Capitol grounds passing through Escario Street, Gorordo Avenue, Salinas Drive and Banilad road. Gun start for 16K is 4 a.m.
Registration is on-going at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office located at the Ground Floor, Palace of Justice (back of the Cebu Capitol building), Cebu City.