by Joey Villar
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ astounding upset victory over dethroned champion Vietnam in the Asean Football Federation’s Suzuki Cup generated interest not just in the Asean and Asian regions but also the rest of the world.
Sports Illustrated, the highly popular US-based sports magazine and website, included the Filipino booters’ stirring 2-0 triumph over the heavily-favored Vietnamese in the group stages of the Suzuki Cup in its Top 10 soccer stories for the year about to end.
Written by Georgina Turner, the story described the Azkals’ win right on the Vietnamese turf as “the biggest upset in the history of the Suzuki Cup considering that RP is ranked a far 151st in the world by FIFA and that the Filipinos had never scored a goal against the Vietnamese in the last two decades.”
“The Asean Football Federation’s biennial Suzuki Cup might not be too high up on your list of priorities, but this year’s tournament produced arguably the biggest upset in its history: Defending champion and federation powerhouse Vietnam lost 2-0 to the Philippines, ranked 151st in the world and without so much as a point off Vietnam in nearly 20 years,” she wrote.
Turner also mentioned the unsportsmanlike gesture of Vietnam’s Portuguese coach Henrique Calisto towards RP’s British mentor Simon McMenemy at the end of the masterful triumph.
Vice President Jejomar Binay’s name was also mentioned in the story for reportedly promising to come up with an honest-to-goodness national battle plan in the Nationals’ future campaigns, including a crack at a chance to play in the 2014 World Cup.
“Accusing the Azkals of parking the bus, Vietnamese coach Henrique Calisto refused to shake his opposite number’s hand after that match,” said Turner.
“Simon McMenemy was upset by the gesture but wouldn’t be drawn into a slanging match after the result that prompted the country’s vice president, Jejomar Binay, to promise a national training program,” she added.