A postcard from Philippine football's future
Philippine Football Weekly News Roundup: July 24, 2065
Azkals gird for tough Asian Cup Qualifiers. The Philippine Men's Football team is preparing for a string of challenging matches for the 2067 Asian Cup, but coach Romeo Beckham is quietly confident.
“We have a strong side, and I think there is reason to believe we can reach the final stage in Papua New Guinea,” said the veteran English coach, who starred for Huddersfield Town in the English Premier League.
“Zach (Younghusband) is hitting form at club level with Global-Kaya FC, and with the emergence of Wenceslao Asmundur as an option at central mid, we really have a young, attacking side that can take on any team in Asia.”
Filipino-Icelander Asmundur has been a sensation since beginning the season, when he was brought over by Ceres – Westbank FC from the Icelandic Premier League.
Younghusband, on the other hand, has drawn comparisons to his grandfather Phil with his finishing ability and pace.
The Azkals are bracketed with Korea, Tibet, Taiwan Republic, and minnows Western Mindanao in Group L.
Beckham's side begin qualifying with a potential banana skin against Western Mindanao on August 24.
“Yes, WM are the lowest-ranked team in the group, but Cotabato City is always a tough place to play, especially since they have such loud and passionate supporters.”
The Philippines' recent slide fourteen places down to 78th in the FIFA rankings has alarmed many fans, but Beckham, son of iconic English legend David, sees no reason to worry.
“Kurdistan was lucky when they beat us at home 7-5 last month in that friendly. We really got a hit in the rankings after that,” said the gaffer, shaking his head.
“The team to beat in Group L really is Korea,” admitted Beckham.
“They are definitely the best Korean side since the reunification. And I really respect coach Choi as a tactician,” added the coach.
Choi Sul Pak's team includes Baek Chung Park, who led Manchester United in scoring last season with 43 goals. Unfortunately it was not enough to prevent the Red Devils from being relegated to the second-tier Waitrose Championship.
The Azkals get their first home match of the qualifiers in September against Korea on September 16 in Manila. The Philippines will want to avenge the 8-4 loss to the North Asians in Pyongyang three years ago.
PFF General Secretary Sandro Reyes says that repairs on Rizal Memorial's retractable roof should be done by then.
Azkals games won't get premium streaming coverage. Azkals fans are up in arms after the team's broadcaster, BlitzSports, announced a less-than ideal streaming technology for the team's upcoming Asian Cup games.
In a statement on BlitzSports' official Verge account, the broadcaster said “Due to technical issues, the Azkals' Asian Cup qualifiers will not be streamed on 32K Mega High Definition Holographic 3-D. We will instead bring you the matches in 16K High Definition Standard 3-D. Thanks for your understanding.”
Fans took to their own Verge accounts to express their dismay.
“Blitz Sports sucks!! They are so old-fashioned I bet they still have a Facebook account, or maybe even a Twitter LOL!!!” Verged one fan, @AzKaLZ4Life. This missive was reVerged by 13,000 other Vergers.
The hashpoints :BlitzSportsSucks: and :AzkalsOnHolo3DPls: briefly trended worldwide.
Ceres-Westbank beats Iloilo Rangers in Philippine Super League. Thanks to a hat-trick from Gerardo Valmayor V, Ceres won the West Visayas Derby 6-5 in the Barotac Nuevo Plaza Stadium last Sunday.
The result vaults the Bacolod team to second in the Southern Conference of the Philippine Super League behind conference leaders Cebu-Mandaue MetroStars.
“This is always a big game,” said Valmayor V (the fifth.)
“It's for bragging rights across the Marañon Causeway,” he added, referring to the bridge that connects Iloilo to Negros via Guimaras.
It was also revealed by Ceres officials that the fifteenth edition of the Mindanao leg of their Ceres Cup youth tournament will once again be held in Basilan in October.
San Beda lands prize recruit in hopes of UAAP title defense. San Beda University confirmed that highly-rated Masbateño striker Rudy “Joyjoy” Ventacio has committed to the Mendiola-based team for Season 128.
Ventacio will join a vaunted attack that led the UAAP in scoring in Season 127 with 73 goals. San Beda ended Adamson's four-peat dream last May in an attritional, low-scoring 3-2 final match.
Since the liberalization of the offside rule in 2037, SBU has been one of the league's most high-scoring sides.
Green Archers-Uniqlo defender tears ACL. Eddie Snowcroft, GAU's American centerback, suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the 9-6 loss to Socceroo-Krispy Kreme last weekend in a collision with Kwame Nkepela.
Snowcroft completely tore his ACL and had partial tears in his MCL and meniscus. Surprisingly, referee Walfredo Ritaga did not even call a foul on the play.
“I'm so shattered by this injury,” said a very emotional Snowcroft last Sunday. “I can't believe I've blown out my knee just when we are making a push for the playoffs.”
GAU is in fourth place jockeying for the last Northern Conference playoff spot with Forza-Sun Beach Sandals FC.
“I'll just have to work hard on the rehab,” added a sullen Snowcroft during the post-match press con.
The centerback undergoes Cryogenic Molecular Reintegration (CMR) therapy in Calamba General Hospital over the weekend and will likely miss at least two matches, perhaps even 3.
In an unrelated note, Green Archers said that the bust of Coach Hans Smit outside their home ground, the Hans Smit Memorial Sports Complex in La Salle Dasmarinas, will be replaced by a bronze statue of him riding a motorcycle. It will be unveiled in November.
Last natural grass pitch in the Philippines retired. In a joyous ceremony held over the weekend, the carabao-grass Municipal Football Field in Diplahan Municipality, Zamboanga Sibugay province, held its last game before being converted into artificial grass. The local school team defeated a squad from nearby Imelda municipality, 11-7.
It was believed to be the last non-turf football field in the country. Work on laying in a new Italgreen 50mm artificial grass surface with FoamFill infill and AquaJet drainage will take about a week. That is longer than the typical four days for an installation but local government officials said the delay was caused by repairs on the installation machines.
“We are so happy to finally have a real artificial pitch here,” gushed town mayor Venancio “Loloy” Santos.
Pachanga-QC upbeat ahead of relegation battle with Philippine Army. “We will go into the game with a positive attitude,” bared longtime Pachanga Quezon City coach Anto Gonzales.
His team will battle fellow Super League North Conference cellar-dwellers Army at the Camp Guillermo Nakar Pitch in Cavite on Sunday.
Gonzales, the league's oldest coach at 84 years of age, will try to avoid relegation from the Super League to the Metro League.
“My team has the quality and we will be victorious,” said the mentor with a bang of his cane on the floor for emphasis during the league press conference last Monday.
“But of course, it will be a hard-fought match,” said the coach in between sips of a cucumber shake.
“Army are always a rough and physical team,” he added. - Rappler.com
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.