MANILA—Vic Sison has seen all of this happen before.
At one time, Philippine football was actually relevant, and winnable even in international levels. So that if it had never lost its foothold in the country’s sporting scheme of things, the now-famous and well-loved Azkals would be underachievers at best.
Sison was the goalkeeper of the last national squad that turned heads on the Asian scene.
The year was 1958, when the third Asian Games was held in Tokyo. The country’s football squad, generations away from being labeled Azkals, marched straight into the belly of the beast and beat Japan, 1-0.
Of course, Japan then was not Japan now, so “beast” might be slightly stretching it. But Japan football now traces its roots to that game.
“Losing to the Philippines was really tragic for [the Japanese],” Sison told the Inquirer. “In the local Japanese paper, the sports section had headlines that suggested that the Japanese players commit hara-kiri.”
Sison smiled at the recollection.