Vietnam is the favorite, that’s the story we should keep pushing

The target in the group stage of the AFF women’s championship was always to avoid dangerous Vietnam in the semifinals. But as usual, the football gods have a quirky sense of humor. “You want to avoid Vietnam? We’ll make you meet Vietnam at the earliest opportunity.” Football, sometimes, is a cruel sport. You play perfectly for 90 minutes but an error in a second will undo all your hard work. That’s what basically

happened to us against Thailand. I watched the game at First 5 with Ugur Tasci, the Cebu Football Club owner, CFC assistant coach Levant Ozturk, and Mert Altinoz, Arda Cinkir and Baris Tasci.

CRUEL SPORT. That defensive lapse against Thailand undermined a great showing of the Malditas.

We were both late–I due to some personal errans and the CFC guys due to practice. I caught the first half via mobile and when I got to the venue, Cebu’s go to sports bar didn’t know what channel the match was on. The waitress even said that she thought the game wouldn’t be aired live. Ugur, who saw the Singapore game in the venue, told them it should be live, while I went to the soc med pages to check what channel it would be aired.

I’m sharing that to raise a point–is it a marketing thing or should First 5 stop pretending to be Cebu’s premier sports bar? I know the PWNT and PFF have done everything to promote the event but despite that, one of their target market, a sports bar, isn’t aware of the event is something that should be up for discussion. I’m not blaming anyone here, I’m just stating a fact.

Now, the Thailand game. I couldn’t take notes because I was interviewing Ugur and taking notes of what he said. But that goal? Perfect example of “shit happens” in football.

Late in the game, Sarina Bolden was brought down inside the box and my initial reaction was it wasn’t a penalty. Later, I replayed the incident a couple of times with a coach and he concurred, it wasn’t a penalty. So, go easy on the refs, they do know their jobs.

What happens now that we’re going to meet Vietnam in the semis, a team we haven’t beaten in the last five games? Well, here’s the thing, we wanted to avoid Vietnam, but to be the best in Southeast Asia, we’d have to eventually deal with Vietnam.

We had enough chances to win the game and Thailand had two or three chances. We had four or five, probably a few more than them, and we didn’t put them away. and we got punished by one error. That’s what happens in international football.

Alen Stajcic on the Philippines’ loss to Thailand.

Might as well deal with them now to know where we stand. Vietnam, of course, will be the favorites and that should be the story line going into the semifinals.

Build them up. They’re supposed to win. We couldn’t beat them in the last five matches. The finals is in the bag for Vietnam. Make everything, every angle, every story all about Vietnam.

Forget the Malditas or Filipinas, it is Vietnam’s time to return to the finals.

You know what’s another Filipino trait in sports? We love the underdog.

Mike T. Limpag
Mike T. Limpag

Mike T. Limpag has covered the Cebu sports scene for over 20 years, starting as an 18-year-old cub reporter for the Freeman in 1997 before moving to SunStar Cebu in 2001.

One reply on “Vietnam is the favorite, that’s the story we should keep pushing”

I just don’t know if there will be a TV coverage later on. Ones Sports didn’t air the Philippines vs Thailand match as they preferred volleyball and wrestling. So I don’t have any idea if they will do it again. So it will be my laptop rather than my TV tonight.

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