Limpag: Enough of that scrappy win, please

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Friday, February 8, 2013


A WIN’s a win and we’ll take it anyway. That’s what team manager Dan Palami told ABS CBN after that 1-0 win against Myanmar in the Philippines’ first friendly of the year.

This time, I disagree with him.

I’d take a scrappy win like that or even worse when it’s in the Challenge Cup or Suzuki Cup, but when you’re preparing for a tournament just two months from now? I’d probably be taking a look at the panic button.

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We’ve shown in previous tournaments what the team is really capable and I don’t think we showed that against Myanmar, what with a defense that had more holes than a strainer.

We’d probably get away with a win playing like that against Cambodia or Brunei in the qualifiers, but against Turkmenistan? We’d have our three square meals handed to us, probably along with a red card or two.

Sure, this is not the Philippine team of old when a two-month preparation wasn’t enough because you’d have to start from scratch in getting the players back in shape. That’s no longer the case, as player fitness—even for non-national team members—is at an all-time high thanks to the UFL and the Smart Cup.

Seven weeks to go before the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers is enough but it would be great to know if we have a team already. Yes, we have all the skilled players, both here and abroad, but the big question is, do we have a team? One preferably where players won’t be thinking, “Holy crap, I’m supposed to be a defender today, not a midfielder.”

I think the team needs only three or four matches under the belt to get into competitive shape, but one problem is you won’t have the same bunch of players in the training camp in the tournament proper.

By the way, the lack of defenders for the Myanmar game was raised by a few critics, while one also pointed out that Anton del Rosario and Jason Cordova were never called up.

Del Rosario has been in the freezer ever since a falling-out with the coaching staff--I think he also filed a case against Coach Weiss. With Coach Weiss getting a second chance and all, I think it’s time del Rosario and the coaching staff sit down, iron out their differences and let bygones be bygones.

If Anton’s good enough to get a spot, give him one and the chance to show that he deserves one. And if he gets one, Anton should shut up, get on with the program and show everyone else why he deserves to be back on the team.

No offense to the hardworking guys who make the training pool, but if you can justify putting in 35 or 37-year-old defenders in the squad, surely one of Anton’s caliber is good enough?

Like everyone else, I’ve always wondered why a guy like Tating Pasilan could never get a call up. And it’s good that the issue has been cleared as the team has been unfairly accused of ignoring Pasilan despite his fine form.

Pasilan said he’s not sure whether he can commit himself to the national team, considering he’s also got a day job. And that got me asking, is that also the reason for the lack of defenders based here?

Yes, we won against Myanmar, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before that March 26 match against Turkmenistan.

There’s still seven weeks to go and that should be enough time to prepare for a tournament at home. Dan said he wants two more friendlies and that should do the trick.

But please, enough of that scrappy win.

By the way, I think some of the critiques are getting to some players and supporters, who accuse those who question the team of “not knowing any football.”

But I think the critiques are good as they put the team on its toes. And in the past, the team has shown they respond well to criticisms.

Weeks before making their biggest ever achievement in international football when they finished third in the AFC Challenge Cup, the coaching staff and players had to deal with a lot of criticisms.

Looks like it’s déjà vu.

(www.cebufootball.blogspot.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 09, 2013.

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