HOW can it be a debacle when the Philippine Azkals finished second in the four-team invitational tournament in Taiwan recently?
But some people call their second place finish a debacle.
Webster dictionary mentions that the word debacle is a French word which means complete failure or a great disaster. But how could it be a disaster when a makeshift Azkals team finished second with one win and two losses. A fourth place finish and 0-3 record could be considered as debacle. But this one? No.
First, the team the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) sent to Taipei was not a full strength Azkals team. The tournament was organized by the Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) outside of the Fifa window of competition. In other words lots of players could not be available.
As what Davao owner and team manager of the team Jeff Cheng pointed out in his official statement sent to us, they invited players whom they considered can play for the national team but because of commitments the players did not show up.
Some top players in the Philippine Football League (PFL) obviously could not make it as the playoffs of the 2017 season between Global-Cebu, Manila-Meralco, Makati-Kaya and Negros-Ceres are still ongoing.
Since Cheng was tasked by the PFF in a short notice to send and support the team for the tournament, obviously he assembled anyone who could easily find time to play for him. Cheng is also the team manager of the Philippine U22 team to the South East Asian Games so he has his young players ready anytime.
He needed veterans to beef up the team. Since he also owns the Davao Aguilas FC, the most logical thing for him to do in a very short notice was to pick his top players. Then who would coach? Who else? The coach who coaches the U22 team and the Davao Aguilas. Marlon Maro.
The brilliant critics or shall we call them trolls would always have some negative things to say. But there were many things that happened in Taipei.
Angel Guirado showed us that he is back and can score goals just like when he was a regular with the Azkals few years back. He scored a brilliant goal in their opening 3-1 win over Laos.
The tournament also has given great exposures to future stars of Philippine football like Javier Gayoso and Kentaro Miyagi.
Miyagi, a rising star from Cebu, made the Cebuanos very proud as he scored in his international debut for the Azkals. Very few players could score from their debut with their national teams.
Gayoso, the son of former PBA player Jayvee Gayoso, was lively up front in his debut and was just unlucky not to score a goal. There were many more young players who were impressive but we just mentioned two.
Coach Maro showed us courage by not listening to critics and giving his young players very valuable experiences on the pitch. He even benched his starters in their last game against Timor-Leste just to let the future of Philippine football gain the most needed experiences.
“We should draw our attention to the positives. We may not have won the tournament but the winner here is Philippine Football. The exposure given to our younger players was the right thing to do," Jeff Cheng said.
He added that the senior players mentoring and leading the younger ones was a very good and encouraging thing to see.
“I think this is what team sports are all about. This experience of our younger players will only encourage and bring more fans, supporters and followers to our national team and Philippine football. What is important is that we help each other," he ended.