They have succeeded in painting a triumphant picture of the Philippine Azkals despite a resounding setback in Mongolia Tuesday but one big question lingered.
Happy—but proud enough?
There’s a sketchy report on the actual condition of the national football squad which proceeds to Myanmar despite bowing to Mongolia, 2-1.
A more objective look, however, bared the celebrated Azkals had barely survived.
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The celebration by Mongolia, the winning side, was borne out of genuine triumph.
Team manager Dan Palami himself did not sound truly victorious and admitted they had gunned hard for a win.
A draw, maybe a 2-all stand-off at the final whistle, would’ve served as a perfect goad as the Azkals, by virtue of a higher aggregate, advance to the next stage after snatching a berth in the group qualifying tournament of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup.
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Anyway, if it would help, the Azkals could use a crisp congratulatory message from President Noynoy Aquino, their No. 1 fan.
“Their excellence is not borne out of luck, but of the perseverance that characterizes true athletes,” Aquino said in toasting the Azkals.
Either the President or his writer did not have the luck to watch the match, played in sub-zero conditions.
Majority of those who were able to follow the game live on television, your reporter here included, were clearly stung by the setback.
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The national team’s German coach, Hans Michael Weiss, was honestly direct to the point.
Weis said the team “played only 60 percent” of its full potential.
Like everybody else in the national squad, Weis blamed defeat on the freezing conditions in Ulan Bator.
Manager Palami termed the numbing weather torturous.
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The Azkals would, however, be unfair to themselves if they put the whole blame on the cold weather.
They’ve been propped up by more than enough advance alibis on the road to Mongolia.
But the Azkals often played half-crippled, mainly in defense, due to loose, soft spots in their overall game.
And this lameness—as when there would be no receiver of a clear pass for possible goal—could be remedied only if they soon stopped talking about the weather.
In the first place, how would have James Younghusband sparkled with a curler of a handsome goal in the fourth minute if conditions were truly thatr] impossible?
Speak of breaking the ice in icy conditions.
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