Saturday, July 09, 2011

Fair Play: Of course the Azkals are for real!

AS A rule, I always avoid criticizing other writers whenever they show their ignorance about football since I think that everyone should write about football if they want to, right?

It’s a welcome change from just less than a year ago.

And though there were times when sports personalities really got it wrong, like the one who said “away draws” were worth 1.5 points, I just simply blamed it on “growing up pains.”

Besides, folks like them only hurt their reputation.

But there is this one columnist in a national daily who really got my goat because guys like him fuel the belief that mainstream sportswriters know shit about football.

Writing for the Manila Standard, Reuel Vidal asked, “So are the Azkals for real? Well, let’s see what happens when they face the Kuwaitis. Because then, the Azkals will be playing against a superior team. If the Azkals beat the Kuwaitis then and only then can we truly say that Philippine football has indeed improved.”

He got it wrong, of course. And the fact that he wrote that Sunday’s game was “so physical Alexander Borromeo and Stephen Shrock were sent off” proved he never saw the game (if he did, he wasn’t paying attention since it wasn’t a physical match and the two were not sent off) and he was doing the writer’s equivalent of talking out off his ass.

So, are the Azkals for real?

Yes, Reuel they are. They have been since 2004.

He got it wrong. The Azkals don’t have to beat Kuwait to prove that “Philippine football has indeed improved” since even a victory over Kuwait will mean nothing to pessimists like him. The fact that we are facing Kuwait proved that Philippine football has kept improving.

What Vidal, and other folks who love to pretend to be football pundits, always overlook are the things the Philippine team has done prior to Suzuki Cup 2010.

The Azkals didn’t magically beat Vietnam overnight, they put in the hard work for six years, ever since the Philippines ended their winless drought in international football when Emilio Caligdong scored those injury time goals against East Timor on Dec. 14, 2004.

If the 2004 Tiger Cup showed the Philippine team has improved, the 2005 SEA Games, was a step higher when the U23 team—bannered by the same players in the senior team—had the chance to make the semis for the first time in 14 years.

And in 2006? Had Vidal and the latest football experts done their research, they would have learned that Philippine football indeed improved on the pitch (Off the pitch, we digressed until 2010. But that’s a different story).
Since losing to Laos, 2-1, in the first game of the AFF Championships qualifiers, the Philippines beat East Timor (7-0)---yep, seven freakin’ zero—Cambodia (1-0), and Brunei, (4-1) to advance to the finals.

The fact is, at home, the Azkals have been so successful they haven’t lost since that Laos game and after the shutout wins against Mongolia (2-0) and Sri Lanka (4-0), they haven’t conceded a single goal in a home game since 2008—beating Brunei, 1-0, drawing Tajikistan, 0-0, and beating Bhutan, 3-0. That was three years ago, two years before the Vietnam success.

Sure there were hiccups in international stints—2008 Suzuki and Challenge Cup qualifiers—but the Azkals didn’t too poorly in those, failing to advance only on goal difference and they redeemed themselves in the 2010 Suzuki Cup qualifiers.
Philippine football is where it is now because of what guys like Aris Caslib, Vince Santos, and the seven players of that 2004 squad started. It is not an overnight success story, it only seems so because some writers are too lazy to research before putting pen to paper.

Philippine football has and is continuing to improve.

What is needed right now, is for the Philippine mainstream sports media—especially those who want to write football—to improve too.


Arielle said...

"...he wasn’t paying attention since it wasn’t a physical match and the two were not sent off..."

LOLsome! Do we repost this? Hehehe!

jun said...

yo mike! sorry-ass punk this knucklehead you are talking about. but dude, c'mon this article is too mellow for his kind. you are telling us things we already know about the azkals. if this yahoos deserves mentioning in your worthy blog, mention him in a fashion he deserves. tear him up! rip him apart! what are you worried about, you got millions of azkaholics behind you. smoke him, sir!

john said...

Very good point. You tell like it is. Good job!

Patrick said...

Very well said. Those writers should know that there is no shortcut to success. Nice article dude. Been fan of footbal since Im 11 years old, the age I started playing football. Keep it up dude!

Detlef Ernst said...

Hi Mike,

I agree with most of your comments on the Azkals improvement in your column published on 9th July.

It is very disappointing that you, like most of the commentators in the Philippine media, did not find it worth to mention that one of several reasons for the success of the Azkals is the work of its German coach!

May be in one of your future columns you can leave some of the credit to him.

best regards Detlef

Mike Limpag said...

Hi Detlef, it's not that I'm not giving him credit, I was focused on pre 2010 to prove that the team isn't an overnight success. But you're right, of course. The current coaching staf--Dan, Michael, the assistant coaches and therapists--deserve credit.

Mike Limpag said...

Thanks John

Mike Limpag said...

Thanks Patrick, some of the mainstream writers have disappointing outputs. I hope they improve with the team... :-)

Mike Limpag said...

Please bay! hehehe

Mike Limpag said...

This came out in our paper ( and I just can't rip anybody apart, even if they really deserve it. A little restraint is needed

observer said...

i agree!!! very well said

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jun said...

"Reul Vidal is an Ignorant Anti-Azkal Journalist". Heck of a thesis.

jun said...

get away from the obvious content and feed us hungry azkaholics, bay. he drew first blood. let's get him.