Last night was the first ever international football match that I have experienced. While lining up outside the Cebu City Sports Center, I could not imagine that my hometown had been chosen to host this friendly. Singapore is not a lowly team at all. They've been the AFF Suzuki Cup title holders. With this in hand, you cannot discount that Singapore is just another lowly team.
I could not believe that I am in the midst of a sea of football fans. A football fan myself, I don my Manchester United shirt. But it was not only me who are donning their favorite jersey shirts. A lot of fans of football coming out there had different shirts with them. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barca, Chelsea, Liverpool and of course lots of Azkal jerseys also.
Upon entering the field, the festive atmosphere greeted the fans of football. In the middle of the Olympic-size oval of the sports center, I was fascinated by the pitch. I could not imagine how in few days, wonderful things have come up. The sports center had been transformed into one of the best venues of the country. Although not par with the best in the world, it's instant makeover proved to be how the Cebuanos can come up with a sound venue in just few weeks.
The most fascinating part of the night are the spectators. Never would I ever saw a crowd that is so appreciative and so lively than the ones you saw in the television last night. I was watching in the Azkal's goal in the first half. We were so immersed with every moment the Singaporeans were attacking the Azkals. As a matter of fact, the saves made by Sacapano was cheered loudly. And to think it was just a save.
During that penalty shot, I could hear a deafening silence among the crowd. One might think that people are praying. Others might be holding their breath while the Singaporean striker was on his way for an easy goal. As the Singaporean strode and did that kick, all eyes were on the ball. And just as the ball traveled from the penalty stop towards the goal, a breaking noise filled the air. The deafening silence of the moment was overcome with the shrieking shout of relief. Sacapano has surpassed Etheridge for that performance.
The first half was already history. By now, Coach Weiss must've been so wary about that close call. Just as then, the name of the Younghusbands replacing some of the Azkals prompted a cheer among the crowd.
The start of the second half has been different. This time around, the Azkals had reclaimed the tempo of the attack. Slowly, the crowd cheered as the Azkals started to be upbeat. The introduction of the Younghusbands has been a momentous event. The brothers orchestrated an attack that has been silenced in the first half. And it was the loudest cheer of the night that made a difference. The goal from Marwin Angeles was a follow up from a cross made by James Younghusband. (I am not so much sure if it was really from him.) It touched the Singaporean's goal. You might call it a very rare goal. That was enough to put the crowd in festive mood.
The rest of the game was played with some fascinating touch from the Azkals. And during the dying minutes of the extension, the crowd shouted that nostalgic chant which can only be heard during the time of Cebu Gems. The crowd made loud its cheer of Daug na! (It's a won game!) At the same time, crowd are cheering their send off cheer of uli! uli! uli!
This type of festive atmosphere can only happened every January. But the Azkal treat was a special one. Cebu should be considered for another hosting event. The advantage that Cebu has as compared to other venues of Manila is that it has direct flights from Singapore, Hong Kong, and Inchon. As a matter of fact, we can invite the Korean National team for a friendly here in Cebu.
For sure, this would be a fantastic clash considering that Koreans made up a significant population in this burgeoning city. And with their national team playing, it would surely be a fantastic affair in the future.
Thou hast power only to act not over the result thereof. Act thou therefore without prospect of the result and without succumbing to inaction " Bhagavad Gita
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