Thursday, May 29, 2014

Fair Play: Crazy ride not over; to the finals we go

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's May 29 issue)
IT WAS close to 2 a.m. and I was alone, screaming at the TV. Once, I even screamed at my friend Bob Guerrero, who was calling the shots for the Maldives vs. Philippines game. I disliked one word—just one word--he used and I screamed, shut the **** up Bob!

It was the alcohol and the nerves of that semifinal game that went into extra time.



I had two set-ups at home to watch the match, one on TV and the other via livestreaming on a laptop. Fed up with the AFC commentator, I switched to the TV to see a “better result.” True enough, after watching Maldives equalize via livestreaming, I caught Jerry Lucena’s goal on TV, which was a few seconds ahead of the match show online.

I could have watched it with a fellow fans but like I’ve been telling folks since that win against Turkmenistan, let’s go out on the finals, because we are going to get there.  It's something I don't normally do, assume that we are going to win a match as it could flat.  Back I had a feeling that we'd be in the finals.

And we certainly are there. We--not just the guys in Maldives--are in the finals for the first time.

We won a semifinals match for the first time.

We won a match that went to extra time for the first time.

And who else would get us here but Chris Greatwich, whose equalizer against Singapore in the 2010 Suzuki Cup sort of started this whole crazy ride.

But just like in 2010, it wasn’t the result of one man’s heroics alone.

There’s Phil Younghusband who provided the first goal; Rob Gier and the defenders who kept Maldives at bay; there’s Daisuke Sato, whose drive led to a Jerry Lucena goal.

And then there’s Roland Muller.

What else can you say about this plucky keeper? He was beaten twice, for sure, but thanks to him we are in the finals.

He saved a penalty--his second--and that plucky save in injury time in the second half sent the match to extra time.

Now, we are just one match away from the title and a slot in the Asian Cup in Australia next year.

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