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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The 1991 Philippine Men's Football National Team: Kings for a day

This appears in Football Philippines magazine (the January-February 2012 edition)
Members of the 1991 RP Men's National Football Team. From the left: Filamer Rossel, Jess Baron, Judy Saluria, Edgar Berja, Coach Eckhard Krautzun, Assistant Coach Consurcio Manresa, Maron Maro, Nonoy Fegidero, Melo Sabacan, and Hersey Salmon. Kneeling is Roroy Piñero.
Kings for a day
by rick olivares

It’s a moment frozen in time. If you look at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium today, many of the structures built that day remain in place even if unused. There’s the clock that has stopped as if to mark a time and place. An event.

It wasn’t just an event. In fact, it sent ripples down and helped father today’s football generation.

On Thursday, November 28, 1991, the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium, the old sports complex along Adriatico was packed and rocking following an improbable win by the Philippine Men’s Football National Team as they defeated regional power Malaysia, 1-nil.

In their first game of the group stage, the Philippines led Vietnam 2-1 but a late goal in the 84th minute saw the Vietnamese draw level. Despite the disappointment of not coming away with the three full points, the Filipinos were confident that they could beat Malaysia. It wouldn’t be easy but it was very much doable.

Against the Tigers, the Philippine team, as coached by Eckhard Krautzun and Rolando Plagata, played with an ultra-defensive 5-3-1-1 formation. “Ang game plan namin ay maglaro ng depensa tapos tirahin sila sa mga counter,” explained defender Marlon Maro. “We were almost successful because we had very good opportunities to score.”

The Malaysians however, found cracks in the defense to pepper the Philippine goal with a variety of shots. But keeper Melo Sabacan was magnificent at goal. With 15 minutes left in a tightly contested match, Philippine midfielder Alfredo Dioso Jr. found Elmer Bedia, who was just sent in the match to provide fresh legs, racing up the right flank. Drawing the defense, Bedia sent a perfect cross to striker Norman Fegidero Jr. who controlled the ball with his chest. Fegidero, faked the goalkeeper one way then sent the ball with his strong left foot to the back of the net.

The Malaysians were in shock. They hosted the Philippine team for a month in Kuala Lumpur. Their coach, Bakhri Ibni, helped train the Filipinos and the Football Association of Malaysia paid for their expenses. Three months later, the pupil bested the teacher.

As the referee blew the final whistle that marked full time, the venerable stadium that bore the name of the nation’s national hero erupted in pandemonium as they celebrated their new heroes. The technicians working the stadium’s sound system played Metallica’s “Enter  Sandman” and the throbbing pulsating music whipped the fans all the more into a frenzy. There was dancing and singing in the stands. Grown Malaysian men, veterans of many a football war, openly wept. The crowd surged forward to the pitch to embrace and celebrate with the players.

Bob Guerrero, the voice of the Azkals, was in college back then and he was one of those who ran down to the pitch to celebrate. “I remember going down and hugging whoever player I saw,” reminisced Guerrero.

“All of a sudden, you had all the media – foreign and local – trying to get interviews with us,” Fegidero described of that moment. “It was crazy. It was like when the Azkals beat Vietnam in the 2010 Suzuki Cup. The difference is that was the pre-internet age.”

Added Rudy del Rosario who also played striker for the team, “The headline in Malaysia the following day read: ‘national disaster.’ That was how big it was. They were the defending SEA Games champions and the whipping boys of Southeast Asia just beat them. We were giant killers. We were kings if only for just one day.”

The coaching staff preached caution as dangerous Indonesia lurked around the corner, their last assignment of the group stage. They had four points in two matches and they had an opportunity to advance farther than they’ve ever done before.

And it looked like they would fell another giant as the Philippines led Indonesia 1-0. But defender Judy Saluria fouled an Indonesian inside the box and that led to a penalty. The Filipinos never recovered from that as not only did the Merah Putih equalize but they also scored a second goal to win 2-1.

In the next stage of the competition, Singapore, all too aware of the capabilities of the Filipinos, did not allow the home team to get in the game as they blanked the Filipinos for the first time in the competition to beat them 2-0 for the bronze medal. The Philippines finished fourth in the seven-nation football tournament.

Following the 1991 Southeast Asian Games where the Philippines placed second in the medal tally, the Men’s Football Team, after eight months of playing together, was disbanded while their German advisers went back to their home country.

For one brief and shining moment, the draw against Vietnam and the win against Malaysia (followed by the thrilling match against Indonesia that ended in a loss), gave the country something to cheer for. And it inspired many of the current generation playing football today.

The starting XI during the Philippines vs. Malaysia game:
Melo Sabacan – goalkeeper
Adolfo Alicante – sweeper
Judy Saluria – stopper
Marlon Maro – stopper
Rolando Piñero – left fullback
Edgar Berja – right fullback
Hersey Salmon – left wing
Eduardo Duran – right wing
Alfredo Dioso Jr. – midfield
Filamer Rosell – striker
Norman Fegidero Jr. – striker

The 1991 Philippine Men’s Football National Team:
Adolfo Alicante, Iloilo, DF
Jess Baron, Iloilo, DF
Elmer Bedia, Iloilo, FW
Edgar Berja, Iloilo, DF
Nonoy Carpio, Manila, GK
Rudy del Rosario, Manila, FW
Jun dela Cruz, Iligan, DF/MF
Alfredo Dioso Jr., Bacolod, MF
Eduardo Duran, Dumaguete, MF
Norman Fegidero Jr., Bacolod, FW
Herbert Ignacio, Dumaguete, DF/MF
Eduardo Marasigan Jr., Batangas, MF
Marlon Maro, Dumaguete, DF
Rolando Piñero, Dumaguete, DF
Filamer Rosell, Manila MF/FW
Melo Sabacan, Bacolod, GK
Hersey Salmon, Davao, MF Acer
Judy Saluria, Iloilo, DF Manila Army

Coaching Staff:
Consultant: Eckhard Krautzun, Germany
Goalkeeper coach, Riko Weigand, Germany
Rolando Plagata, Iloilo, head coach
Consurcio Manresa, Iligan, assistant coach

Where are they now?
Adolfo Alicante led FEU to several football titles and is now coach of Green Archers United.
Jess Baron is with the Philippine Army.
Elmer Bedia lives in Australia where he handles a variety of football clinics.
Edgar Berja recently retired from the Air Force and now resides in his native Iloilo.
Nonoy Carpio works with the Asian Football Confederation.
Rudy del Rosario is one of three people to form Kaya FC and is currently the head coach of the Homeless World Cup Team
Alfredo Dioso Jr. works with an electric company.
Norman Fegidero Jr. coached the Azkals for a spell and is the successful head coach of West Negros University. He also coaches Pachanga FC in the UFL.
Herbert Ignacio works with a bank.
Eduardo Marasigan Jr. now resides in the United States.
Marlon Maro is coach of the College of Saint Benilde, the Street Child World Cup Team, and Navy FC.
Rolando Piñero is an assistant coach with the Azkals and was there with the team in Vietnam in that momentous 2010 Suzuki Cup.
Filamer Rossel works for Mama Sita.
Melo Sabacan is a goalkeeper coach today with Navy.
Hersey Salmon works with Acer.
Judy Saluria is with the Army.

Eckhard Krautzun still does football work for FIFA.
Riko Weigand is still a goalkeeper coach.
Rolando Plagata passed away.
Consurcio Manresa works with the PFF as Technical Director for Mindanao.


  1. Nice one sir! Timely for the friendly match against Malaysia tomorrow. Good luck to the Azkals! Set another upset for the country!

  2. hopefully we could honor them come feb 29 at rizal. really made us proud!

  3. Rick, Eduardo Duran is from Dumaguete? He is in the starting line-up but missing in the Team's list. If I'm not mistaken, he is the husband of one our teacher in Don Bosco.

    1. he is the husband of SLS-Don Bosco's current principal. i find it weird though of him not showing up on local pitches to encourage the youth whenever he has a free time. although he could be helping out in some other aspect.

  4. I watched this game as a kid and ended up idolizing a lot of these players. Amazing! All homegrown talents. We need more like them.

  5. never knew coach roroy was a part of the national team. he coached for a number of years in the AFC and helped out with the Ateneo HS team with former HS coach Edwin Cabalida (who is now also an azkal asst coach)

  6. Judy Saluria is with Dolphins United - second division UFL team. his siblings are doing the coaching chores in Cavite.

  7. Correction: Alicante's first name is RODOLFO not Adolfo. Very proud of my schoolmate, a product of the La Paz Football Program, Iloilo City.

  8. I remember that... grade 6 ata ako or 1sr year high school... radio lang pinapakinggan namin nun... kase one of our relative was playing the unbeatable number 7 hehhe.. si To Egay..tas kasama nya si Laknet.. nung nabalitaan namin na panalo sobrang natuwa kami nun.. di pa pinapansin halos ang pinoy futbol nun., tas alam ko ata sa tv makikita mo ung team natin sa PBA na lumalaban sa SEAG.

  9. Jun DelaCruz is in Iligan and is a staff for the Iligan United Football Club

  10. Wow, I was impressed with this kind of article truly amazing research. I was just an 11-year-old boy during that time. I love history and I love football. Hopefully this guys will be recognized.

    I hope some bloggers will features this guys on their blogs to spread the word. Just an avid Azkals and football fan...Thanks a lot for the article. Truly inspiring

  11. I was one of the few spectators of that historic game.The bleachers and the grandstand had a lot of empty spaces then. Nakakapanindig balahibo nang maka-goal ang Philippines.I hope that this second chance, the renaissance of football will be all the way. Hwag sanang maging ningas cogon. Its up to us fans, media and private sponsors to keep the fire burning!

  12. I was one of the few spectators of that historic game. The almost empty bleachers and grandstand was silent until the Philippines made the goal.Nakakapanindig balahibo. It was all euphoria afterwards. I hope that the football renaissance will be all the way. It is up to us fans, media and private sponsors to keep the fire burning.

  13. 2nd from the left on the first pic is Junior De la Cruz of Iligan city, as for his whereabouts, he's coaching the men's team of Iligan City

  14. nung high school ako dumaan sa PE class namin (football kasi ang sport namin for that quarter) si rodolfo alicante, pinakilala nung PE coach namin that time. grabe, sana mas maaga ako na-expose sa football.

  15. Great memories. Fantastic article. Being in the stands with my family watching Nonoy score that left footed volley is a memory I can re live over and over.

  16. That goal was like the goal of Chris Greatwitch and phil younhusband vs vietman, a shocker goal

  17. proud to be a student of Coach Dolfo Alicante, under the Southridge School Football program. One of a kind coach,trainer and mentor.

  18. melo sabacan was my idol during my high school days.. he was really good.. our coach rene diofita's always tells me to study melo's foot and leg work.. he was a master in cutting shooter's goal angle. I believe his ht was only 5'4 to 5'5.. until now i use his tips when i play GK...

    nonoy fegidero, he runs like a horse and has stamina like a tamaraw.. his speed makes him deadly in 1 vs 1 attack and he is a very humble guy..

    alfred "bambi" dioso, a classic midfielder. when you look for precision passing and a dependable center midfielder.. you can always count on him.. this is what our team needs now. a formidable center mid fielder..

  19. CORRECTION! It's Rodolfo Alicante, not Adolfo Alicante.. Or Dolfo as my dad would have it.. :)

  20. coach in my college playing days was the assistant coach of the Philippine National Football Team that beats Malaysia in 1991 SEA Games...Mr. Consorcio Manreza.,so fortunate to be under his tutelage...learn so much from him.....roroy pinero and noy fegidero were my classmates in coaching courses....jun dela cruz is a close fortunate to be in touch with this legendary people


  22. Hey, that's my Dad, the assistant coach! :D
    and his name is spelled Consorcio Manreza. :)

    Thanks for this though, such a proud daughter right now. Never thought my Dad was huge back in the days. Haha! xx

  23. Haha! That's my tito, Nonoy Carpio! :)

  24. wow! my dad and mom was one of them watching that game, mga ilaw araw palang nun malapit na ako manganak, go azkals! i can't believe philippines beat malaysia

  25. sana may vid pra mapanood ko tong laro..:)

  26. Liverpool is the best, I'm liverpool fans.

  27. Hi, the name's ORLANDO PLAGATA, not Rolando Plagata. He's my grand uncle.

  28. Hi there. Just a correction. The head coach's name is ORLANDO PLAGATA, not Rolando Plagata. He's a grand uncle. He was Philippines Mr. Football in his younger.

  29. Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking. bxh