It seems to have been divine providence that the rains started the moment last Sunday’s match between the Philippines and Sri Lanka started. For us lowly people in the bleachers (you’ll find out soon enough why I refuse to fork out four digits for a ticket to watch the national team), it was either a mad dash for whatever could be turned into cover or a resignation of being just as soaked as the players were.
But really, it was all just varying degrees of wetness, especially when puddles were forming in the seats and a shallow river runs along the bottom step.
There are a few instances when I would happily bask in the rain, and this match was one of them.
I know I tend to be critical of this national team, but I do think that they did what they ought to be doing more consistently during last Sunday’s match. Whatever magic beer they drank in Germany to be a more cohesive unit was finally showing its potency. The team’s passing in general showed that they are now reading each other’s moves.
Chieffy Caligdong opened the scoring at the 19th minute, off a header from Fluffy Phil Younghusband, who scored a goal of his own at the 43rd minute (credit that as well to a lucky break, with the ref deciding on his favor). Angel Guirado Aldeguer followed with a brilliant goal at the 51st minute, off an assist from James Younghusband. Fluffball Younghusband got a brace after he netted his second goal off a penalty kick at the 57th minute.
Sure, the scoreline read 4-0 at the final whistle, and the scoring could have even been a wider margin, with a host of opportunities presenting themselves to the PHI NT. While the strikers and wingers have displayed the hunger for those goals, it surely can tremendously help when they are smarter about plays—don’t go for the goal by yourself when the better thing to do was to pass to the other guy who may be in a better position to score.
The defense has been pretty solid in this game (thank you, Rob Gier), even if Sri Lanka looked to capitalize on their perceived weakness from the first leg. Paul Mulders is still pretty much on attack mode though, but a fit Angel Guirado Aldeguer has been helping out as well. Stephan Schröck, Manuel Ott, and Mulders all displayed their skills. One note though on the defense, it seems that they can’t manage to easily clear the ball during corner kicks, despite their distinct advantage in size and height over the Sri Lankans.
Borromeo and Schröck had pretty good games… until they got those yellow cards that could easily have been avoided. Borromeo for an unnecessary tackle, and Schröck for that scary-devil-wide-eyed-flaring-nostril-bull-charging head-to-head lock with a Sri Lankan diver (the South Korean ref had to grab Schröck by the neck to push him away). This is a lesson for the team—all other teams that would face you in the future would now know that you guys find it difficult to keep your emotions in check (this also goes to squabbling siblings on the pitch, over who the penalty taker would be), and they will try their damn hardest to push your buttons and throw you out of focus.
That said, it still is the time to bask in a historic victory (I write historic with reservations—historic as an advancement to the second round, but still small fry in the greater scheme of things). No Borromeo and Schröck in the next match versus Kuwait should make for an interesting starting XI.
MOTM: I’d have to give it to Chieffy Caligdong. (Sorry, Fluffy, not you. Maybe next time. I’d rank Angel Guirado Aldeguer over you, actually.)
Highlight of the Match: El matador goal celebration between Angel the matador and Chieffy the malnourished bull
Flops of the Match: Whoever decided to blare that stupid PBB song on the loudspeakers and the two girls that found their way next to me, who did nothing but shrilly scream, “GO NEIL!!!!” even if the action was on Manjula Fernando’s goal, and who kept asking, “Sino ba yung #6?” (I could not help myself and snapped, “Gener!”)
The Shirt I May Consider Wearing for the Next Match: