The Philippine men’s national under-23 football team drew its first game in the AFF U-23 Championship in Phnom Penh, Cambodia against Timor-Leste on Valentine’s Day, February 14.
The Philippine side came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, courtesy of Ivan Ouano’s brace.
Instead of showering the boys, who gallantly fought back to salvage a point, with love, some football fans criticized the team’s “poor” performance. Some even said the team played a trashy game. And someone even asked if we deserved this same results and efforts from the team over and over again.
Fans can say whatever they want about the team—they can curse them because of lost chances in what they expected as a win or an easy game. They can fault the team’s management for not being able to assemble the squad as early as possible and they can even blame the person in charge of securing the players’ airplane tickets for all I care.
The boys came from different parts of the world, went over strict travel restrictions, dealt with passport concerns—some had to wait for their tickets to be confirmed because the person in charge was in some place else. And these happened even before their boots touched the grass of Cambodia’s capital.
Despite these concerns and being down twice in the game, the boys managed to salvage a point.
And we should be thankful for that. Most of these boys are 17 and 18-year-olds playing in their first major tournament.
Real fans are not the ones present only when the team is winning. They are not the ones who come in droves when a team accomplishes something great or historic.
Real fans celebrate in silence, in prayer, and in just knowing that they did their part in supporting the team when nobody else loves them and when it’s not cool to be fan because the team loses a game or goes home empty-handed.
Don’t get me wrong – these football fans may have a point. Heck, in some bad days, I might even agree with them.
But today is not that day.
The boys’ next game will be against host Cambodia Thursday night and by the time this column comes out, hopefully we got the result that we wanted and some love from the team’s hard-to-please fans.
If we can all be just as demanding when it comes to our presidential candidates, that our country, and not only football, will be in good hands.
But then again…
Meanwhile, despite the distractions, Asia’s best pole vaulter and source of Pinoy pride, Ernest John (EJ) Obiena won the gold medal in the 2022 Orlen Cup in Lodz, Poland.
The Asian record-holder soared over 5.81 meters in his first attempt to secure the title against an elite cast of opponents. The 5.81 meters is his personal best and came at a very crucial time as the Tokyo Games veteran is still at odds with his mother NSA, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association. He is also coming from a knee operation and is currently going through financial concerns.
As of writing, Obiena is competing at the Meeting Hauts-De-France in Lievin, France. He is also set to see action in the Orlen Copernicus Cup in Torun, Poland on February 22.
His Orlen win, however, has secured his appearances at the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, Serbia at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA.
One could just imagine what EJ can do if he is physically and mentally prepared for such big events without worrying about clerical duties and battling politicians masquerading as sports leaders.
It is quite good to know that despite many offers from rich countries for EJ to switch his allegiances, he remains steadfast and committed to represent the sun and three stars.
Your move, PATAFA!
Back to football, our favorite Sukhotai FC player, Marco Casambre, finally made his 2022 debut in the Thai League 2 on Sunday, February 13, 2022.
Casambre came off the bench in the 67th minute in their game against Ranong United and helped the team get the full three points with a 5-1.
“Medyo nanibago po ako kasi medyo matagal ako na hindi nakapaglaro. Siguro dahil na rin sa atmosphere at sa laro in general,” he said after the game.
Casambre said he hopes to get better as the season gets to the final stretch with his team still in contention of getting promoted to the 1st Division next season.
“Ginagawa ko naman po best ko palagi kada game at practice para makatulong sa team,” he said
Sukhotai trails Trat FC by five points for the top spot in the league. The team has won 14 games, lost two and drew seven games for a total of 49 points, just three points ahead of third-running Lamphun Warrior.
Casambre is hoping that he can play more minutes in the next few games and gain more experience.
Sukhotai will face Muangkan United in an away game today. A win will definitely help the team create more separation against Lamphun.
Casambre also mentioned that his cooking woes have eased. He doesn’t need to cook in the meantime because of affordable food delivery services in Sukhotai.
“Dami po rito nagde-deliver pagkain. Mura pa,” he chuckled.