Thursday, December 13, 2012

Losing sucks, but hey, we'll recover

WHEN the final whistle was blown, I wanted to lead a round of applause for the team, but someone beat me to it. We were applauding.  Someone hollered a loud "yeah!", while there were a few "sayanga oi!" but the applause was constant.

I think it lasted close to a minute.  And these guys weren't the usual guys I watch Azkal matches with.

It was disappointing. We were so close to history.  We were so goddamn close. When Singapore got that free kick in injury time,  I bowed, looked at my notes and said, "It's over."

I'm pretty sure the team and the coaching staff had a similar feeling. I hope the players remember that feeling.  And, now, of course, some of those who seem to lift themselves up in the misfortune of others are crawling out of their shelves, gloating at the Philippine men's football team's loss.

Instead of ignoring them, the team, should pay attention to them.  Don't block them out. Listen to what they say.

And, even perhaps, when these folks come with press cards, answer their questions.It's open season for criticism for the men's football team.  Let them have their say. 

Let even the haters have their hate.

But of course, they should know too, that moments after the game, fans were applauding.  

I am not one to question a coach's tactics, especially after a loss. And after this, the coaching staff will face a lot of questions.  I hope they'll face the music.  It's part of the game.  

I only have one question though.  With an erratic midfield, why was our most experienced midfielder in terms of Suzuki Cup matches--Chris Greatwich--left on the bench?  I'm not an expert when it comes to formations, or when it comes to spots in the first 11 and I really just want to know, why was Chris left on the bench?

And yes, it's time for Dan Palami and coach Michael Weiss to go.  Go spend the next few days with family, go have that vacation, away from a television set and a cell phone if needed.  Ever since the US trip, their focus have been on the Suzuki Cup, and a few days' rest, I think, is a gift that they deserve.  I saw Dan on vacation once, and he spent most of time, fiddling with his phone handling training camp preparations and Suzuki Cup details.

Yes, we lost. We were so damn close.  It's disappointing. Everyone is disappointed, I hope the players remember that feeling.

I hope, we remember too, that feeling, when we applauded the national team, after they lost.

We got outplayed in the first half, but darn it, we owned the second half--minus of course, a few scares. I always said, whatever the result, I'd be happy if I'd see the players give their all.

And they did.

But that is football. You can have all the possession in the world, all the chances in attack but if you can't convert them, well, it won't matter.  Didn't Vietnam learn that bitter lesson?

I hope the team remembers that feeling.  I hope, too, they'd remember guys like Nico Salva. I had to actually  resort to google to know who this idiot is and I learned Salva is a member of Smart Gilas' cadet team.

This guy said, "Finally, the boring football game on AKTV is over.  Now can u show the pba game already?"

Boring, was it?  I spent the final 20 minutes of that game on my feet. Boring was it?  When the guys wearing the Philippines' colors were giving it their all?

Was it boring because Nico Salva doesn't understand football?  Heck, I don't play basketball, can't shoot a free throw even if it means a date with Maria Sharapova.  I can't swim, too, and I certainly don't understand how a BMX event goes, but, and this is what Nico Salva fails to understand--it's for the flag, dude. 

Salva is a Smart Gilas cadet candidate--now, in PHL footie terms that would mean he's as close to making the NT as a Laos FC player--I hope, when he finally makes it, he doesn't have to deal with idiotic tweets like the one he made.

Guys like Nico Salva don’t get it.  And my favorite PBA player of all time—Asi Taulava—gets it.  The day after we lost to South Korea in the Asian Games semifinals, it was only Asi who was spirited enough to continue fighting for the Philippines.  We got a goal down and we never gave up.

And, yes, the Azkals loss’ of course, fuels yet another round of pure debate about pure Pinoys and half-Pinoys.  Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, for Exhibit A, I give you the Philippine economy, fueled by OFWs, for exhibit B, I give you the PBA!

The Azkals, too, get it.  Did you see how the other players reacted when Singapore was fouling Phil every other play?  

The Philippines lost, and it was a disappointing end to what was within reach.

But the applause didn’t stop after the final whistle.

I had my leave for the Dec. 19 first leg of the finals approved, a few hours before kick-off and I guess, I’d have to change it.

But I’m confident that someday, we’ll have that Suzuki Cup finals home game because the Azkals get what Nico Salva can't.

And that's why we applauded, even after the final whistle.

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