Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fair Play: Dan says yes to Ricky's invitation...I think

 This column came out in Sun.Star Cebu on July 30

MANILA - Dan Palami had a strange experience with a reporter during the post-match party after the game against Kuwait last night.

After getting cornered for a brief interview, the team manager, in reply to the bevy of questions by the reporter, said, “You already asked this last night!”

Poor clueless reporter still continued and fired a follow-up.

“We already talked about this last night, you don’t remember?”


“This is classic! Wait till I tell the guys…”

And off he went telling the story to Graeme Mackinnon and Kaholero regulars Araceli Socorro, Andi Sia and Craig Burrows.

Poor reporter, all he wanted was a scoop and now he’s part of a story that will be told and retold countless times whenever the group gathers just because he couldn’t remember the final two hours of a meeting with Dan, Graeme and the Kaholeros the night before.

But enough about that, Dan said they will consider the invitation of Cebu City Sports Center manager Ricky Ballesteros for the Azkals to play a friendly game against a Cebu selection come November.

Ricky told me about his plan a few weeks ago, to have an Azkal match serve as the coming-out party for the refurbished CCSC Dust Bowl and I relayed the invitation to Dan.

“We haven’t received an invitation yet but we will consider it,” Dan said. “It will depend on the availability of the team.”

And I’m sure that because of the team’s previous visits in Cebu—twice pre-Suzuki Cup and once last summer—Dan will make room for a Cebu game once he gets the invitation and it might be the senior team, not the Under 23 squad since they will be busy playing in the Southeast Asian Games this November.

And I really think Dan is serious because he said yes to the Cebu invitation, twice.

I think it’s about time the Cebuano fans get to watch an Azkal match—even a friendly—live, don’t you think?

Aside from that, Cebuano fans of Angel Guirado Aldeguer, the 6’3” striker from Spain, could get to see him once his Visayas stop gets organized. I met Rafa Garcia, Angel’s cousin and interpreter, and he told me they’re willing to squeeze in a visit to Cebu for their tour, which will have stops in Bacolod and Iloilo, the home base of the Aldeguer clan.

A Cebu visit, according to Rafa, would also be the perfect time for AA the footballer to touch base with AA the godfather of boxing.

While that is still up in the air, what is certain is that coach Michael Weiss will be back in Cebu for a much needed vacation.

After joining the team as head coach in January, Weiss went straight to work preparing the squad for the then AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers match in February, the group stage in Myanmar in March. After a brief break, the squad picked up training anew in May for the World Cup qualifiers, with training stints in Cebu and Bahrain.

By the way, despite his vast experience as a coach, he has never seen anything like Philippine football and the support of the Filipinos.

“Philippine football is unique because everywhere in the world, there is a Filipino working to send money to his family back home. That’s why everywhere we go, we have supporters. It’s unbelievable,” Coach Weiss said.

Dan also praised the fan support in his speech.

“We might have lost the game but we certainly just have started. Nakita mo naman ang supporta ng fans sa amin,” Dan said about the fans who tried to boost the spirit of the team by chanting “AZKALS…AZKALS...” when Kuwait scored the equalizer.

Graeme said he was also impressed by that move and that it showed the fans have reached a new level with the way how they really try to get involved in the game.

By the way, did I tell you about Dan’s unique experience the other night because of one sportswriter, who they say may have had a bit too many and couldn’t remember the previous things he said and tried to have the same conversation…

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