Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fair Play: A homecoming match for Ray

UNLESS there are changes, there's no Stephen Shrock, Neil Etherdige or Angel Aldeguer--all Cebu favorites—for the Nov. 15 friendly against Singapore at the Cebu City Sports Center.  Angel is in India, while Neil is currently on loan with the Bristol Rovers until Christmas and Schrock, of course, is playing in the Bundesliga.

Knowing how Dan Palami operates, I know if the team insisted, they could have gotten the three for the friendly, as  is a Fifa-calendared match. But in the past, the team usually foregoes inviting these players for a one-day friendly, hoping that that move would lead the clubs to be more willing to release them for important tournaments, like the Suzuki Cup, which isn't on the Fifa calendar.

But who's coming though?

Aside from the players in the 35-man pool who are based here, those from abroad who are coming over for the friendly are Rob Gier, Ray Jonsson and Juani Guirado, and for Jonsson, who spent his first eight years in Liloan, it would be a homecoming match of sorts.  

Jonsson is one of the first Pinoys based abroad to sign up with the team and has even worn the captain's band in a match. There's a funny story involving this guy, who's as Bisaya as your next door neighbor, relayed to me by another player.  One time Jonsson was shopping in Manila for a gadget case when he asked, in English, how much the item was. 

When he got the foreigner price, he muttered, "Sus, mahala pud oy," and the surprised vendor said, "Oy, bisaya diay ka," and  gave him a much friendlier price.

Jonsson is also a member of the Pepito clan of Liloan, and Raffy Musni, a Cebu Football Association board member and also a Pepito, said he has taken to calling Jonsson "Gaw" whenever he sees him.  And the Bisdak has always reciprocated.

"Maski layo kaayo sya, musyagit pud ug 'Gaw,'" Raffy said.

And for the Nov. 15 friendly, Jonsson will have a few thousand “Gaws” cheering for him from the stand, and that is an apt payback for a player who has toiled silently for the national team since the time when playing for the Azkals would only get you a few bruises, not a few endorsement deals.

Like Jonsson, Rob Gier is one of the veterans of the team, and one that Coach Michael Weiss has identified as a leader in the pitch.

"He's very important because he really gets the team together, he's a natural leader," Coach Weiss told me during an interview in his recent visit to Cebu.

Aside from Jonsson, another Azkal who traces his roots to Cebu, this time to the Southern town of Argao, is Patrick Reichelt, who started for the team during the Peace Cup campaign and is also seeing action for Dan Palami's Global FC in the UFL.

Based on the 35-man lineup the team released a few days ago, I think it's safe to assume that the other players coming over will be Marwin and Marvin Angeles, Ian Araneta, Misagh Bahadoran, Jason de Jong, Anto Gonzales, Nestorio Margarse, Carli de Murga, Lexton Moy, Demitrius Omphroy, OJ Porteria, Jason Sabio, Ed Sacapano, Matthew Uy and James and Phil Younghusband.

FAN SUPPORT.  Aside from the CFA, the Kaholeros led by Egay Salvacion, have been working hard the past few weeks on their cheers for the friendly, and  I’ve heard a couple of them and I think they would be a hit.

The group has been practicing every Saturday for the past few weeks, spending their own money for the drums and so far, everything is going smoothly.  We’re going to see---or hear—all their hard work come Nov. 15.

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