Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shock and Awe: Azkals lose but Pinoy football wins

Let me go straight to the SHOCK part first. The Azkals (Philippine men's football team) lost 4-3 to the United Football League All Stars in an exhibition match held on June 5, 201,1 Sunday, at the University of Makati Football Stadium.

Playing without a sense of urgency and with defense loose as sand, the Azkals allowed two goals from Eric Dagroh, an Ivory Coast national playing for Kaya FC (41' and 75'), Mark Hartmann of Loyola Meralco (52') and a last minute go-ahead goal by Sudanese and UFL top striker Izzeldin El-Habbib of Globe Smartmatic.

Chieffy Caligdong scored the game's first goal on the 10th minute, while Simon Greatwich and Ian Araneta each scored catch-up goals.

Now we go to the AWE part.

Three years ago when you said "jampacked stadium" in the Philippines you'd probably assume that it described either:

a. a basketball game or
b. a sold-out concert

Add "football game" to that list now. And it's about time! Imagine a Pinoy crowd 10,000+ strong coming out to watch a friendly. Who would have thought?

Football die-hards, casual fans, families and groupies. They all gave Pinoy football some good lovin'. Some even brought flags, wore scarves and colorful wigs and blew vuvuzelas. Eat your heart out South Africa!

Security personnel were well-distributed around UMak to keep the crowd orderly.

It was also a great venue to reunite with friends and former teammates...

UFL All Stars whoop it up during the Awarding Ceremonies. It was a well deserved win.

At the end of the day, I went home with a smile on my face, knowing that football is now alive and kicking in the Philippines.

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