Monday, August 01, 2011

Fair Play: Shrock and awe

I PANICKED a bit a few minutes into the Kuwait vs. Philippines match after I realized I could hardly make out the players’ jerseys. Try as I did, I couldn’t read the damn jerseys on the players’ backs.

How was I supposed to take notes if I can’t tell who’s who? It was easy for the players I’m familiar with, as I don’t need to check their uniforms to see who they were.

But for guys like Stephen Shrock, Manny Ott and all of the Kuwaitis minus the keeper? It was hit and miss.

But in the 47th minute, though, I had no doubt who took the shot.

“Sino ang naka-goal?” the press lady, who tried and failed to decipher my notes, beside me asked.

“Si Shrock!” I answered quickly.

It was a thing of beauty. Not only the goal but the play before it--Chieffy Caligdong and Phil Younghusband playing tag team in trying to keep the play ongoing at left flank against a bevy of Kuwaitis.

Caligdong stole the ball from a Kuwait player, then Phil played pin-ball, struggling to stay on his feet as he controlled the ball, while bouncing off two Kuwaiti defenders. Chieffy got it, then had to fend off a couple of Kuwaitis just to keep the ball in play.

“It’s injury time,” I thought. “Just let us get one shot ref, just let us get one shot.”

Caligdong lost it, but managed to pester the defender enough to deflect the clearance, which somehow found itself to Shrock.

Shrock, who hasn’t scored for the Azkals before that time, took one dribble before launching a powerful shot that got past the keeper, sending the crowd in pandemonium, in the third minute of injury time when there was supposed to be only two minutes of added time. (Thank you ref!)

Do you know what that goal did? It made everybody believe.

Sure, we all believed in the Philippine football team but prior to that game, even the most ardent of fans knew a win against Kuwait was a long shot.

But Shrock changed all of that with his rocket and during that half-time break I think everybody was starting to think a win over Kuwait—not just a home leg win but the whole second round---was possible.

It didn’t happen, of course, but I’m not disappointed. Those who are may have unrealistic expectations and those who gloat about the loss don’t know what football is.

We just took the game to Kuwait, one of the top 10 teams in Asia. We faced the toughest foes we have ever faced, in the biggest game of our football lives and we didn’t blink.

What’s there to be disappointed about in that?

After the game, the Kuwaitis had nothing but praises, for the fans and the team. The assistant coach even said he hopes to see the Philippines among the top 10 teams in Asia.

During the game, I compared notes on the goal with Cedelf Tupas, the football chronicler who I first met during the SEA Games.

I once posted on Twitter that Chieffy Caligdong’s rocket against Bahrain was the best goal ever by a Filipino and Cedelf wanted to know if I still thought it was.

Of course, after that “Shrocket,” I had to revise it with Shrocket’s goal on top because of the context of the game that it was taken. Tied at no. 2 would be Chris Greatwich’s equalizer against Singapore against first goal against Vietnam and No. 3 is Anton del Rosario channeling his inner Roberto Carlos in a 30-yard free kick against Brunei in the AFF Qualifiers in 2006.

Shrock’s goal, so far, is in a class of its own.

But I’m confident—because of the growing confidence of the team—we are going to see more goals like that.


schucke44 said...

Here is another oal got worldwide attention. It's from Paulino Alcantara. see the article:
His nickname was ‘El Romperedes’, which can be translated as “The Netbreaker.” Paulino Alcántara is the all-time leading scorer of FC Barcelona, but he is perhaps best known for a legendary moment he created with his right foot while playing for the Spanish national team. It was April 30, 1922. The opponent was France. Alcántara struck the ball from 30 yards away from goal. For a man who scored 357 goals in 357 appearances for Barca, the fact that the ball made it past the French keeper should come as no shock. What made the moment so transcendent was that Alcántara struck the ball so hard it broke through the back of the net. It was a display of power that children in Spain would attempt for years to replicate while playing with their friends.

Read more:

Mike said...

Hi Schucke44,

Yap, I know about Paulino Alcantara. I think most of the pictures in the net are those that I uploaded back in 2005.Graeme Mackinnon, who is from Australia, got the pictures from Barcelona and he passed it to me and I uploaded it in the forums.

There was a movement back then, to call the national championships the Paulino Alcantara Cup or the player of the year award, the Paulino Alcantara award.

Anyway, thanks for raising this up again as, despite the growing popularity of the sport, not too many people still know the exploits of Alcantara. Thanks