Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fair Play: Hail to the Chief, Azkals' scoring threat

This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Oct. 6

WHEN Chieffy Caligdong came in at the second half against Macau, I knew we were finally going to score.

Mao na ni!” my kababayan, Mark Concha, who was screaming mid-meal in the first half, shouted.

And he was right, a few minutes in, Chieffy launched a wicked shot that nicked the side bar in his first attempt.

Minutes later, he wasn’t denied as he banged in his own rebound for the first goal of the match before launching into his now familiar celebration.

And the fans at the Azkal Sports Bar and Grill, denied of a first half goal despite numerous attempts, celebrated with Chieffy.

I don’t think there’s much of a difference in skills with the Chieffy who came as a sub in Taiwan and the super-sub who scored those injury-time goals against Timor Liste in Tiger Cup 2004.

But confidence-wise? Chieffy’s not the same.

And it’s a good thing, because a confident Chieffy on attack is what we need for the Azkals to continue its string of great games, lately.

While Chieffy was great, Phil was a disappointment in the Long Teng Cup and failed to score on open play despite getting a few chances.

But I’m not ready to write off Phil, though, as the striker seemed off, which is quite understandable considering the personal turmoil the guy just went through.

And I hope Phil ends his slump, soon. The striker hasn’t scored in open play since that goal that was “disallowed but was allowed” against Sri Lanka in the World Cup qualifiers.

And what better way to end it than against Singapore this Friday?

Before facing off against Singapore, I remember reading team Aly Borromeo say that the team was confident of holding the former Tiger Cup champion to a draw.

And I actually smirked at his remark. I knew the team was good, after making it through the qualifiers, but I thought El Capitan was in over his head.

But what happened? The Chris Greatwich goals happened and Phil struck with his left foot, leaving Singapore and Vietnam stunned.

And Philippine football was never the same again.

And I’m pretty sure, Singapore has that 2010 game in mind when it meets the Philippines anew, in home soil.

But unlike in 2010, when I didn’t believe Aly when he said the team could hold the Lions to a draw, this time, I’m pretty confident of the team’s chances.

Sure, it’s just a friendly. But for the Azkals, there are no such things as friendlies, right?

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