The "Right" Decision (Philippine AZKALS beats Singapore...Again)

During his man of the match interview after the Philippines beat Singapore 1-0 in Cebu, goalkeeper Ed Sacapano was asked on his thoughts about the 1st half injury time penalty given to Singapore. Sacapano more or less said that he would go to the right on this one. It turned out to be the right decision as Sacapano saved that penalty to keep the match level at the end of the first half.

For me, that injury time penalty save by Sacapano was a turning point for the match given the context of that penalty decision. The referee botched the penalty call, Christaens didn't commit a foul and it was the Singaporean who slammed into Christaens as he lost his footing. If Singapore scored that penalty it would have been unfair. So what if they were playing very well and dominating the match in that first half. Our team did a good job as well in keeping them at bay, playing solid and compact defense. Philippines didn't deserve to go one goal down at the dying minutes of the first half due to a bad call by the referee. Considering Singapore's dominant play, giving up a late goal at the end of the half would have had quite a demoralizing effect on the team as they would head into the second half chasing the game. Good thing Sacapano stepped up and kept our team in the fight, definitely a man of the match moment. That save could have been that all important boost to the team's confidence and spirit that gave them the feeling that, yes, this is going to be our night.

Sacapano's penalty save was crucial in terms of its potential impact to both sets of players at a mental, psychological and emotional level. Keeping the scores level at halftime was important. Sacapano chose to go to the right and the second half of the match was a much different affair than the first.

In football, there are 2 big words often used when it comes to players: form and confidence. You can more or less track form using statistics and keenly observing match-day performances over a period of time. I hear big-time clubs in Europe even have computer programs for this purpose. Confidence is a whole lot trickier; it is mainly psychological, mental and emotional. It's in the player's head and not so easy to get inside of, but its value is never underestimated as confidence can spell a major difference on the field of play. 

The match showed these 2 factors at work. The effect was evident as the second half started to get underway. When the Philippines went ahead, it was no longer in doubt that victory was highly possible. If the Philippines was oozing in confidence by the second half, that's because our guy at goal had it in abundance. When Sacapano saved that penalty, he probably felt that that ball was not going to get past him that evening. His 2 other equally impressive diving saves from free kicks later in the match validates that assumption. 

It’s quite timely too that Sacapano exhibited tremendous form and confidence in this match. As we all know, this friendly against Singapore is the final tune up match of the Philippines before it heads off for its 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign starting 27 November. There's high hopes for this team to replicate its 2010 Suzuki Cup achievement of reaching the semifinals. The possibility also exists that this team could go all the way. But before all of that, we face some very tough opponents in the group stage. That is why the absence of our Europe based players has raised a little bit of concern. Their presence provides added quality and high level match experience to the team.

Among the absences, most notable will be our goalkeepers. Since the Suzuki Cup is not on the FIFA calendar, clubs are not obliged to release players for international duty and both Neil Etheridge and Roland Muller have club commitments during that period. There is no confirmation yet if they will be able to make it to the tournament or even just be able to play in a match or two. 

Photo via philnews.ph
This situation leaves us with our third choice goalkeeper, Ed Sacapano. Looking back at his performance against Singapore and the Peace Cup, he just needs to keep up that sort of form and confidence throughout the Suzuki Cup campaign and we should be relishing our chances. Of course, his team mates have to step up as well, though the team's performances over the series of matches organized to prepare the team for the Suzuki Cup shows that our neighbors don’t take us too lightly. 
It’s also good to see we now have a deeper bench as well with a large number of quality players now locally based. Before, Coach Weiss had limited options for substitutions. Before it appeared that substitutions were made mainly to put in fresh legs and to just hang in there, and even then he rarely made these changes. Now he can make a number of changes without sacrificing quality and even create a decisive impact on the match. For a tournament like the Suzuki Cup that involves a group stage playing 3 matches with only 2 days rest in between, a deep bench is crucial as injuries, match suspension and fatigue are a constant concern. 

This friendly victory over Singapore is a good setting from which to kick off our Men's National Football Team's Suzuki Cup campaign. A well fought victory over a tough opponent, a number of players brimming with confidence and in good form, and a deeper bench should provide our team a decent chance at a good showing.

Make no mistake, this will not be easy. We are in a tough group. While our team has made tremendous strides and very notable improvement in the past 2 years, our neighbors haven't been standing still either. Remember, this is football and anything can happen.

For now, let's just sit back for now to enjoy and savor the victory against Singapore that was brought about in no small measure by Sacapano's right decision to go right on that penalty kick. By the week after next we'll be back in front of our televisions again, nervously and excitedly watching and hoping that our players, our Coach and the referees are making the right decisions.

16 November 2012, Moira G Gallaga©


Diplo-travel tales: Adventure in Morocco

The first day of the trip seemed to be going off without a hitch. I was late to the airport but knew that I’ll make my flight on the nick of time. Security was not too bad and they passed me through without hassle. I’m now just hanging out in the lounge, playing with my laptop, passing the time until my flight leaves. I love to people-watch whenever I’m in a public area. Maybe it is part of our training or simply out of habit borne of a curious mind; my husband and I are always aware of our environment wherever we are. There are three shady looking men who seem to be staring at me as I type. I’m a woman and I travel alone, maybe they find that strange. I would love to send you pictures of those people, but that would probably have been weird and would have drawn more attention to myself if I just popped out my blackberry phone camera to take snapshots of strangers.

Rooftop of Palais Namaskar
It might be a bit difficult to capture all of life’s realities while on a trip, but I know I can at least capture my own experience. A small comfort for me is that in my quest to contribute to society, I am not betraying anybody by trying to use them as a case study without their knowledge. Hopefully, somebody will read this and if one person’s mood can be brightened by my musings, then this is all worth it.

I don’t really have a poignant reason for penning this memoir; I just want to do something therapeutic for myself while leaving a trail of words that somebody might find entertaining.

One thing I’m sure of is that it is exciting for a woman to travel alone. It is a wonderful feeling having the sense of independence that travelling alone gives us, even if it is just going to a spa for the weekend. It doesn’t matter how far the destination or how mundane, when you travel by yourself as a woman it gives you an amazing sense of independence and everything tastes sweeter and the air feels nicer. I do have to say though, that the more unfamiliar the place, the more of a thrill it is. When you travel to a far land alone there are so many adventures to have, so much to add to your life’s notebook of experiences. The more confidence you show, the better the time. It truly matters what kind of attitude you take with the experience. The more courage you exhibit with each new experience, the more badges you allow yourself to wear. Every single trip that I take alone continues to feed my motto of ‘living on the edge,’ and I revel in it.

Being assigned at Washington, DC was an amazing experience.I have travelled with no problem through large parts of Europe and those little nooks included in travel warning advisories such as Cuba.

At the moment, I’m now at Reagan National Airport waiting for my flight to Morocco via Royal Air Maroc. Yes, I’m on my way to Morocco as I decided to take things up a notch. The spontaneity of not knowing exactly what the next destination holds can be sublime. I know I’m going to Morocco and I have an idea of the places I want to visit but there is no definite schedule and I am always open to experiencing everything the country has to offer.

Whenever I think about the passing of time that I can’t control, taking a leave for a trip alone can be very therapeutic. It can be just the thing to help me find myself and who I am becoming with each passing day. Women can get so caught up in being the caregiver; the mom, the doting wife, the career woman who keeps the office together, etc. There is another identity underneath all that, our own identity; our identity as independent women who have much to contribute to the world besides being all of those mentioned above.

Marrakech Downtown. I'm not good in taking pictures.

More women have found how healing travelling alone can be. It lets you relax and take everything in. It takes you away from making sure everybody else has everything to just making sure that your own needs are met. It lets you be more open with people and allows you to express yourself - it reacquaints you with you; who you are underneath all of the labels. To any woman who reads this, please remember that though reconnecting with yourself and finding your independence is a wonderful experience, it is not one to flaunt in every part of the world. If you familiarize yourself with the rules and traditions of your destination, then you can enjoy your independence with safety. Before embarking on an adventure, do check the travel.state.gov’s site for the latest advisories and that includes necessary health information, required vaccinations, customs and traditions; and do’s and don’ts.

to be continued…


Facing Life's Challenges

Life can test an individual's will in a great variety of ways; either by having absolutely nothing happening or by having everything occurs all at one time.

We are forced to fight numerous battles throughout our lives.  There are times when we are too reliant upon others to save us. Other times, there is simply too much happening at one time for us to take care of it all.  What you are going through at any one moment should never determine what will happen over the course of your life.

The road ahead is going to be tough. There will be bumps, bends and everything in between. But I’ll keep my eyes steady, and my heart ready.

For many individuals there are a lot of challenges in life.  Many people choose to develop a very negative world view because they always seem to go through periods of their lives in which they don't have enough; nothing is going their way; or there is simply too much going on for them to handle.

Through all these, we must continue to maintain our sense of honor, stay true to our principles and possess an indomitable spirit. Work hard in life each and every day, and also work hard in specific life areas consistently.  If we do not, we will only improve in short spans and can never attain optimal growth due to the fact that growth will sometimes stop, unless we start investing more effort into that particular area.

"Bad days are inevitable, but that doesn't mean you should shut doors and dim your light. Even the best trip up sometime."

Moira G Gallaga©

Read the Poem - "Destiny And Character" by Moira Gallaga

Read the Poem - "Destiny And Character" by Moira Gallaga:

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