Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Azkals enter semis but face the prospect of playing “home match” in Indonesia

This appears in the Friday December 10, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.
Azkals enter semis but face the prospect of playing “home match” in Indonesia
by rick olivares

NAM DINH CITY, VIETNAM -- The Philippines National Men’s Football Team, in Nam Dinh City southeast of Hanoi to play a “road game” with Myanmar, bucked the cold weather, nerves, a hostile crowd of about a thousand, and spotty officiating to barge into the semifinals of the 2010 Suzuki Cup with a scoreless draw.

The semifinals matches between Singapore-Vietnam (the latter won 1-0 at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi) and the Myanmar-Philippines were held in separates stadia at the same time according to AFF officials to prevent any match fixing since the results of both matches would decide who would move on.

“We were nervy early on,” said Chris Greatwich who led the team in scoring with two goals including his injury time header against Singapore and his early strike against Vietnam. “They were moving the ball around well, stretching our defense then try to beat us with the long ball. But I had confidence in our defense to hold them. After the first 10-15 minutes, we figured them out and we began to have some chances of our own.”

The Philippines had at least 10 scoring opportunities including a header from Phil Younghusband off a well-placed cross by defender Anton del Rosario and a couple of smashes by Ian Araneta that hit the goal post. Or crossbar. “We should have won that game,” rued skipper Aly Borromeo who was nonetheless pleased that the Philippines pulled through in the semifinals for the first time in the history of the 14-year tournament.

“People would say that we should have won against Myanmar,” cautioned long time national mainstay Anton Del Rosario. “But that team is tough. We didn’t have much luck against them before.”

The Philippines’ English head coach Simon McMenemy concurred, “Just because they’re at the bottom of the standings that doesn’t mean that they won’t be any trouble. Going into the match, the pressure was on us (to top the group with a win that awards three full points in the standings) not on them. Perhaps their opener game against Vietnam (where they were whitewashed 7-1) is not indicative of their true talent. They after all, nearly beat Singapore.”

The match however was conspicuous for the lack of calls against Myanmar that grappled, tackled, pushed, and held the Filipinos. At one point, after Younghusband kicked the ball out of bounds after midfielder Roel Gener went down with cramps, a Myanmar bench player tossed the ball back at the Fil-Briton. “Let’s face it,” said an exasperated McMenemy. “We were never going to get any calls in this tournament.”

After the match, the team management learned that the Asian Football Federation issued a memorandum stating the semifinals home match of the Philippines (in a home and away series with Indonesia) will be played at the Gelora Karno Stadium in Jakarta. The memorandum stated: “The Philippines will not be able to play a leg of their semi-final or subsequent final at a home venue due to no available stadia in the country meeting the requirements for the AFF Suzuki Cup. The Asean Football Federation took the decision after careful consideration and talks with the relevant parties. A set of guidelines has to be met before a stadium can stage an AFF Suzuki Cup match and none of the proposed venues in the Philippines reached the required standard stipulated in the Hosting Obligations for the tournament.”

The memorandum put a damper of the celebration in Hanoi and in the Philippines. Last night, the national team released a statement: “As we drew Myanmar in a scoreless affair that saw us finish second to Vietnam in our Group, we received word that the Asean Football Federation has deemed that our homefield of Panaad, Bacolod to not be up to the requirements of the AFF Suzuki Cup after consultations with PFF President Jose Mari Martinez and therefore our hard-fought “home game” will be played either in a neutral venue or at the homefield of the other semis winner.

We deplore this decision that was arrived at without consulting the national team management team or even having the facilities inspected. We believe that this is an opportunity to provide Filipinos with a chance to watch some world-class football action that will inspire our countrymen to take up the sport and break new ground for the Philippines.”

Martinez, who is fighting to be reinstated as Philippine Football Federation president after his ouster last November 27, 2010 in the year-end congress held at the Philippine Sports Commission, informed the AFF through an email letter that “The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has no objections to the Away-and-Away games for the Philippine National Football Team any time they qualify for the Semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010.”

“That’s terrible,” lamented Borromeo. “Not being able to host a home match. This is one thing that can be really good for the growth of the sport in the country then just like that, we don’t have it. We should be given a chance to ensure that we can host a world-class football match in front of our hometown fans.”


  1. The Legendary Skyflakes25December 9, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    sell out naman pala itong si Martinez eh.

  2. We think this is Mari Martinez' way of getting-back at the Team Manager, Mr. Palami, for voting against him during the last PFF Congress.

  3. This just proves that Martinez does not deserve to be president of the PFF.

  4. what a killjoy, all for what? so he could prove that he is in control. we waited years for this. this is our world cup doesn't he get it.

  5. rick, i thought our home game "will be played either in a neutral venue or at the.." so if panaad is out why not play it in bangkok... or singapore where theres a large filipino ofw community.

  6. an Indonesian here. I guess you Filipinos are facing the same problem we Indonesians have: the current PSSI chairman is the infamous Nurdin Halid, who had done prison time after being convicted of a smuggling charge, when he previously manage to dodge several corruption charges on technicalities. Both PFF and PSSI deserve much much better. Good luck on the semis.

  7. Martinez threw the team (and in effect the Philippines) under the bus. What else does he want to do? He already stole money, bribed and is taking credit for something he had no part of. Amazing!

  8. martines is the culprit

  9. should kick martinez ass out of the philippines national team..dan palani and the boys are great!!!!!!!specially to neil etherigde go azkals gooo!!!!simon mcmenemy good job take em all the way to the finals.