Friday, May 25, 2012

Fair Play: Are you ready for Indonesia?

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on May 26)
SO, are you ready for the home match against Indonesia?  I know some friends from Cebu are counting the days when they will return to the Rizal Memorial Stadium to cheer on the national team again, and so too, it seems the national team management.

Aside from finally having that home game we never got to have in the 2010 Suzuki Cup, we are going to have one of the best lineups for quite some time.  A dream team if you will.

“We are going to have the best players we never got to have during the Suzuki Cup,” Dan Palami said.

Among the players we didn’t have for that Suzuki Cup semifinals were Paul Mulders, who’s proven himself to have quite some ball control skills though he needs a few more practice shooting at the goal, Dennis Cagara, Stephen Shrock, Jerry Lucena among others.

Dan mentioned a few of the first 11 options but one thing that he’s really excited about is having Germany-based Manny Ott, who first played for the flag in the AFC U19 qualifiers in 2009, and Stephan Shrock start at midfield and he’s hoping the absence of a language barrier would be a great boost would make them gel better.  

Captain Aly Borromeo, who has seen some action for Kaya FC in the past few games, may not suit up for Indonesia as team management thinks he’s not ready for the international match and doesn’t want him sidelined, again.

Neil Etheridge will be back at goal and will be flying to Manila the day Roland Muller leaves for a vacation somewhere, to avoid a clash of, well, you know.  But I don’t think the team has to separate the two, as I’m sure they won’t be immature enough to start a pissing contest and would probably go along with each other.

Dan was pretty pissed with Neil’s one-game suspension as he thinks it wasn’t necessary.

Neil, who wanted to seat with the fans for the third-place playoff against Palestine, was seated behind Dan and was pretty vocal when calls came against the Philippines.  And can you just imagine hearing Neil scream?

So, the fourth official got pissed, went to Dan and warned him to tell Neil to stop or he will include him in his match report.

“I told him ‘but he’s already suspended and he’s not in the bench,’” he said.

“But he’s still in the lineup. Control him or I will include him in the match report,” the official said.

So Dan told Neil to pipe it down, and the goalkeeper did, but the darn match official still included Neil in his report, hence earning a one-match suspension and a $3,000-fine.

“Had I known that, I would have told Neil to just continue,” he said.

Dan also mentioned a couple of new players based abroad, including another striker from Spain, who could be joining the team later this year, but so far, nothing is definite yet.

What he did tell me, though, is that there will be no longer any tryouts for the team.  And when one player approached him he wanted to try out for the, he said:

“You don’t try out for the team, you get invited for camp,” Dan said.

The difference may be subtle, but the message is clear. There are so many players out there willing to play they can be choosy. And the Pinoys who learned their football abroad will go through the same process as the locals, and should wait for an invitation and not expect a direct entry to the team.

Unless, of course, you’re a David Alaba or a Stephen Shrock or an Alphonse Areola.  By the way, there’s a chance the France-based Areola could suit up for the flag but he knows his best chance to play in the sport’s biggest stage is to wait for a call-up from France.

As France’s no. 1 U19 keeper, he’s nearly there, but because of the quirky rules of the international game, he could play for the Philippine Under 23 team and still be eligible for France’s senior squad.

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