by Karlo Sacamos
He may be regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation, but that doesn’t mean Fabio Cannavaro is incapable of making mistakes.
Off a miscalculated header to the keeper, the Italian football legend committed a stunning own goal in Team James’ 2-2 draw against the Philippine Under-23 men’s football team in a tune-up match on Thursday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
Cannavaro, the former Fifa World Player of the Year who captained Italy to the 2006 World Cup title, was in town to grace the Clear Dream Match slated on Saturday along with Chelsea icon Dennis Wise.
And the Italian center-back is with James Younghusband’s team, which had its first and only practice session that included the tune-up game with the U-23 Azkals.
The lapse was understandable as Cannavaro could be weary from obliging dozens of interviews and photo opportunities earlier in the day during the press conference at Makati Shangri-La.
“He got a mistake … pero siguro nag-aadjust pa siya kanina sa game, ayaw niya masyado ma-stress,” teammate Chieffy Caligdong said as Cannavaro laughed off the blooper by going down on his knees and raising his hands like he was celebrating.
Except for the miscue, Cannavaro was flawless, with his mere presence a big boost to the development of the sport in the country, according to the Azkals skipper.
“Malaking bagay ito, especially sa younger generation like yung U-23,” Caligdong said. “Yung motivation, halos magkaka-same height lang sila, ‘di ba? Hindi siya ganun ka laki, pero the way he plays, yung movement, at body position perfect,” he added of the 5-foot-9 Cannavaro.
Caligdong admitted to having made his own mistakes and having the honor of Cannavaro correcting him.
“Sinabihan niya ako na may mistake ako dun sa ginagawa ko,” Caligdong related. “The important thing in football daw is yung body position, when you receive the ball, kailangan daw yung vision mo malaki. Sinabi niya yung hindi lang sa akin, kung hindi sa lahat.”
“Hindi naman tayo magiging ganito kung hindi natin i-aaccept yung mistake natin,” Caligdong added. “We have to accept our mistake and learn from it.”