Friday, November 28, 2014

Fair Play: Imagine

CLOSE your eyes for a minute and imagine this.  You're at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and it's the home game of the Azkals in the Suzuki Cup semifinal round.

To your left are your beer buddies who'd willingly invade the field if you tell them to. You've been talking about this game for days at end and you are finally here.  The atmosphere is unbelievable as it seems, everyone is a football fan these days and you love it.

To your right are some friends you dragged for the football game, their first.  They've always wondered how you can be so crazy about a team or a sport for that matter that you'd stay up late or miss work just to catch some El Classico or some World Cup matches. You got tired of explaining to them the beauty of the game that in the spirit of Christmas, you decide to buy them tickets to let them in on the experience.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

That thing of beauty that is the Azkals' 4-0 win.

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 27 edition)
FOUR-ZERO! That’s the unbelievable scoreline of the Philippines against our Southeast Asian neighbors Indonesia in the Suzuki Cup, and if you tell me that you expected such score before the game, you’d be dragged to the sanitarium for being delusional.

And that came after that impressive 4-1 win over Laos, when we trailed by a goal, in the first game in Vietnam. Then, we all wondered, when was the last time we scored four goals in the Suzuki Cup? The answer, never! And now this!

(The front page of the Indonesian Paper, Jawa Pos screams "Shame!" after the Philippines 4-0 win over Indonesia in the Suzuki Cup. Photo taken by colleague Armie Garde, who is in Bali, Indonesia for a journalism seminar)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

STC rocks Girls 18 in Sun.Star Cup

(For original story, click here)
ST. Theresa’s College (STC) C didn’t have a picture-perfect performance in the group stage just barely getting into the quarterfinals.

However, STC C won matches when these counted and eventually brought home the crown with a 1-0 win over Tabor Hill FC in the Girls Under-18 championships last Sunday at the Cebu City Sports Center football pitch in the 3rd Sun.Star Football Cup.

(The STC girls celebrate with their trophy--contributed foto by Jinggoy Roa)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ateneo bags 2 crowns in Sun.Star Cup

(This is my story for the second day of the Sun.Star Football Cup. Original story here)
ATENEO de Cebu bagged two crowns last Sunday, while sister clubs Giuseppe and Leylam FC surprised traditional powerhouse Don Bosco late Saturday in the 3rd Sun.Star Football Cup.

Ateneo de Cebu of coach Totot Colina leaned on the heroics of sub keeper Julian Cabatingan to beat Phoenix, 3-1, via shootout for the Boys 13 title.

Cabatingan had two saves in the shootout, and also had two stops in their 2-0 win over Los Amigos in the semifinal round.

(The Cebu City Sports Center field---or what's left of it)

Fair Play: Playing referee in Sun.Star Cup

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 24 edition)
THERE was plenty of drama and tears during the first day of the Sun.Star Football Cup at the Cebu City Sports Center—also known as the Dust Bowl.

Yep, the one thing that organizers couldn’t control was the state of the field and if a player happened to slide on a patch of grass he or she should go to the nearest lottery station and buy a ticket as that would mean that player’s luck is unbelievable.

(If you can spot the patch of grass, you have the eyes of an eagle)

Fair Play: It's back to Historic Hanoi for Azkals

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 20 edition)
TWO days ago, that epic match between the Philippines and Vietnam in the 2010 Suzuki Cup was aired anew by Fox Sports as part of its promotion for this year’s tournament.

Four years. It’s been quite a ride.

I remember exactly what I did during that game. I swore I nearly hit the ceiling when I jumped after Chris Greatwich’s goal. Mine was a subdued celebration as my then one-year-old was sleeping.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Fair Play: DBTC, Springdale rivalry makes Cebu football interesting

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 19 edition)
IT'S always a pleasure watching a final between Paref Springdale and Don Bosco Technological Center, and last Saturday's clash for the Cebu City Olympics title was no exception.

If they didn't point it out, I wouldn't have known the curious background of the match. Prior that final, that DBTC squad hasn't beaten Paref-Springdale in major tournaments like the City Olympics (elementary level), the Aboitiz Cup and the Milo Little Olympics.

(Some kids who invaded the field console the distraught Springdale keeper)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fair Play: Impressive goalkeeping fete

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 17 edition)
IF YOU missed the Springdale vs. Don Bosco football final in the Cebu City Olympics, you missed more than a half of your life. In all my years as a reporter, and my longer stint as a fan, I’ve never seen anything close to what Kenry Balobo, the Don Bosco keeper did.

The match was beautiful and from the get-go, I thought Springdale had it. Sabin Veloso ran the defense to sheds with his speed that mid-way into the half, he had merited a shadow. Don Bosco, too, had their moments--and their counters nearly caught the Springdale defense napping.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fair Play: Why Chieffy's legacy means there won't be another Chieffy Caligdong

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Nov. 15 edition)
THE first time I heard the term super sub used in connection with Philippine football was when Emilio “Chieffy” Caligdong burst in the scene.

Inserted late in the lineup against Timor Leste, Caligdong ended the Philippines’ wait for a victory in international competition with two goals in four minutes of injury for a 2-1 win.

And curiously enough, when I asked him about those goals a few years later when the Azkals visited Cebu, he pointed to another teammate as a big factor in those goals.