By Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Azkals were down 0-1 to Palestine in the finals of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup when team manager Dan Palami was shockingly sent off to the stands in the 70th minute of the match.
"In the many years that I've been with the Azkals, that was the first time I've been thrown out of a game," Palami said Tuesday during a press conference celebrating the Azkals' return.
TJ Manotoc of ABS-CBN News tweeted that Palami was sent off for excessive complaining, and the Azkals manager was forced to watch from the stands as the team failed to get an equalizer and settled for a second-place finish in the tournament.
Days after the heartbreaking defeat, Palami explained his side of the story.
"We were shouting at the referees," he admitted. "There were a lot of non-calls. Patrick (Reichelt) was dribbling, he didn't fall down, but you could hear from the sidelines the number of times he was hit by Palestine players."
"There were balls that were outside already, but the linesman didn't call them," he added.
Palami said it was the Azkals' assistant coaches who were repeatedly shouting at the referees, and have been warned several times by the officials.
"Finally, in exasperation, I clapped and I said, 'Good job, referee, good job!' I didn't know it was a cause for a red card when you say, 'Good job, referee,'' Palami said, drawing laughter from the members of the team as well as the assembled media.
Palami admitted that he tried to "squirm out of" the red card by sticking close to one of the assistant coaches in an attempt to confuse the referees.
The referees would not be denied, however, and pointed to him.
"'That guy,' he said, 'You clapped and said good job,' and the referee said, 'You go,'" Palami related, adding that he had to pay a $600 fine as well.
Palami chalked it up to experience -- one of the many firsts that they had in the course of the tournament.
"It was an experience. There were a lot of first times, and that was also the first time and hopefully that would be the last," he said.