MANILA, Philippines - National football team rookie goalkeeper Christopher Camcam won’t suit up for the AFF Suzuki Cup semifinals against Indonesia tomorrow and Sunday but the Azkals youngest player isn’t bothered. For the 16-year-old Benjamin, just making it to the 30-man roster is an achievement he’ll cherish forever.
Coach Simon McMenemy submitted a 30-man lineup to the AFF for the Suzuki Cup but a day before the start of hostilities, trimmed the cast to 22, leaving out Camcam and seven others. Although he’s not in the active list, the 6-2 Camcam left with the team for Jakarta yesterday.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, I rate our chances of beating Indonesia to be 7 or 8,” said Camcam. “We’re used to playing matches abroad. We beat Vietnam, the defending champion, in front of 40,000 fans in Hanoi. It’s no different playing in Jakarta. I think we’re the best defensive team in the tournament while Indonesia is best in attacking. So in the semifinals, it will be our defense against their offense.”
Camcam said the Azkals will keep a close watch on Indonesia’s deadly strikers Cristian (El Loco) Gonzales and half-Dutch Irfan Bachdim. “We can handle Gonzales,” he said. “Our defenders are solid – Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario, Rob Gier and Ray Jonsson. Anton and Aly will check Irfan (who has scored three goals so far in the tournament). Aly’s our leader. He’s a huge presence for us on the field. And coach Simon is a great motivator. He gets us all fired up. He knows what he’s doing. You couldn’t ask anything more from a coach.”
Camcam, a third year high school student at Linden Tree, said he never expected to be called up to the senior squad. He saw action on the under-16 team in an international tournament in Bacolod last year and was recommended by Philippine Football Federation technical director Aris Caslib to try out for the senior team with then coach Desmond Bulpin. When Bulpin left and McMenemy took over, Camcam remained on the training roster.
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