Thursday, November 06, 2014

Fair Play: Why you shouldn't miss Nov. 14 friendly vs. Cambodia

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 6 edition)
IF YOU call yourself a Philippine football fan, then you’d better head to the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Nov. 14 for the friendly against Cambodia. And, of course, if you’re not in Manila, watch the games on live TV, too.

It’s important that you do and while you’re at it, why not drag your friends too.

It’s the final friendly, and whether you root for Loyola, Kaya, Global or Ceres, or you’re with the Kaholers or the Ultras, it’s important that you count yourselves as one of the fans who would be present when the Azkals play their final home game before leaving for the Suzuki Cup.


It’s just Cambodia, you could say, and the foes even failed to make the Suzuki Cup finals after finishing third in the qualifiers.

But, it’s the final friendly, the time and argument for the preparation—or choice of foe—is over. It’s time to rally behind the Azkals, give them that final confidence-booster before they take on the rest of the region as Southeast Asia’s top dog.

And what better way to give them that boost than a full-packed stadium? To let them know there’s a full crowd waiting should they make it all the way to the knockout round?

We did that in 2012, when Cebu hosted the friendly against Singapore. Before that friendly, there were doubts on the capability of Ed Sacapano in minding the net in place of the Europe-based Azkals who couldn’t make the trip and his penalty save--plus an all-around impressive performance—erased all doubts.

Ditto with Patrick Deyto prior the Challenge Cup last summer. He showed that he’s more than capable of starting in place of Roland Muller with that last-minute penalty stop against Malaysia in another friendly in Cebu, the Azkals last home match before leaving for the Maldives.

Against Cambodia, it’s what the team needs anew. A big boost before it leaves for Vietnam for the group stage of the Suzuki Cup against Laos, Indonesia and the formidable hosts who are eager to avenge that 2010 humiliation in Hanoi against the Azkals.

So, count yourself in. You can sit among the VIPs, the Kaholeros or if you’re up to the challenge, stand with the Ultras. It doesn’t matter, what matters is your presence.

This is no longer about club loyalty or philosophy, it’s all about the flag. And it’s not only the players who get called for flag duties, it’s the fans too.

So, what are you waiting for?  Book your tickets. Now na!


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