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.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Looking at the Dili Kamo Nag-iisa Football Charity Match

Looking at the Dili Kamo Nag-iisa Football Charity Match
by rick olivares photo by brosi gonzales

How do I look at the “Dili Kamo Nag-iisa” Football Charity match that ended in a 3-1 win by Internacional de Madrid over the Azkals-UFL Alyansa?

You must remember the main objective was to raise funds for the victims of Typhoon Sendong regardless of the outcome. Having said that, the objective was met and that means it was a success.

Coming into the game, Madrid had an advantage over the Philippine selection simply because they are in the middle of their season and thus were superbly conditioned while their Filipino generally were not in any sort of shape. The UFL Cup had ended about a month earlier. Fitness and conditioning were obviously a question. You can also say that was a result of a long holiday season. They only had two days’ worth of practices as a team and that is not much.

Prior to the game, head coach Edwin Cabalida instructed his wards to pace themselves because of their lack of conditioning. If they felt they couldn’t go on, then they could go to the bench. But once the game started the strategy off pacing oneself went to hell.

The Alyansa players matched Madrid’s fast pace that was a surprise since I (and probably a whole lot of people) expected them to not have their legs owing to jet lag and tiredness.

Madrid simply had too much space to operate and they repeatedly threatened. But Jason Sabio who had just gotten back from injury was a rock in the middle as he fought hard to turn back the visiting team’s attacks.

I wasn’t able to watch the scrimmage between Madrid and the Malditas but Belay Fernando told me that the Spanish side played the style commonly associated with their country – dominating ball possession and exceptional passing. Against the Alyansa, the home side’s defense held until the penalty on Ed Sacapaño that put Madrid on the scoreboard after Rufo Sanchez converted on his spot kick in the 15th minute.

Some said that we had problems with their size and I’ll disagree. Sure it looked comical as Roel Gener tried to win a highball over a taller Spanish player but for the most part, we had some size as well. If anything, Madrid pounced on the Alyansa’s lack of cohesion.

Regarding the size, we got our own licks in when James Younghusband won the jump on the smaller Joao Garcia to score on a header (off a Chieffy Caligdong cross).

People to tend to think that because of the classification of players on the field – forward, midfield, and defender – it is up to the latter to “play defense.” No such thing. The midfield has to go back down (occasionally one or all of the forwards do as well depending on the strategy) to help out.

Case in point. Prior to the goal of James, Rufo Sanchez, had gone back down on Madrid’s defensive side to help out. But he gave Chieffy a little too much space to send the cross (but I’d credit the national side’s co-captain for creating that).

The Alyansa substitutes brought in some energy into the home team’s attack and I wished they were brought in a little earlier. You might say that hindsight is 20/20 but I will digress. We have quality players on that bench and just as a goalkeeper has to trust his wall to guard against free kicks, I will trust my bench to get the job done. The UFL players have always shown some urgency and determination to get things done (as they want to showcase their skills and hope for a call up to the national team). And if you ask me, guys like Tats Mercado – a long time national net minder himself, Roxy Dorlas and Jerry Barbaso played well.

If our players were not in shape, why play at all?
The match was only hatched up in less than two weeks. It was for a benefit. After Chris Greatwich’s tweet that started it, Stallion FC assistant coach Bob Bayona was chatting with Madrid’s chairman Stephen Newman who is oft in town (as his wife is Filipina) and everything fell into place.

The loss hurts too but not that much. The odds were already against us.

Some say that our win against Vietnam was a fluke. And our inability to beat even a Spanish Third Division side only confirms that.

I disagree. The quality of play of the national side – as well as the football clubs – has gone up. But the other support systems have not improved. I do know that PFF President Nonong Araneta and Team Manager Dan Palami are looking into that.

How did the Madrid players feel about going here to the Philippines?
They were excited, as this was their first international match. But more than anything, the disturbing images of carnage and devastation wrought by Typhoon Sendong really hit them hard.

Madrid captain Juli Bautista said that seeing images of a woman carrying her child in the flood affected him. Midfielder Nacho Feijoo, who scored Madrid’s third goal, said that last year’s tsunami alert that also threatened Spain bothered him. And he said that when he saw what had happened to Mindanao, what’s to say it couldn’t happen in his own country given the disturbing global weather changes.

Dani G, who scored the Spanish team’s second goal, reiterated that they were glad to help in anyway possible.

Overall, it was a great experience for all. Madrid plays in a small field with a small capacity and they were really happy to see a turnout of some 8,000 people even if Rizal Memorial Football Stadium wasn’t packed to its capacity.

I know that the national side’s matches have to been calendared much better but again, this was for charity. I have nothing but respect to all the people who put this together and I am deeply thankful to be asked to be a part of this.

Members of both the Azkals-UFL Alyansa and Internacional de Madrid during the traditional walk to thanks the fans after the match.

Moderating the post-match press conference. This one was with Internacional de Madrid. From left to right: Rufo Sanchez, head coach Javier Marquez, Nacho Feijoo, Dani G Fernandez, and Juli Bautista. Behind us is Rafa Garcia to interpret the Spaniards' statements. Who were the local players who impressed the visitors -- Phil, James, and Chieffy.

At the Discovery Suites with Misagh Bahadoran and Craig Burrows after the match.

No comments:

Post a Comment