Filed Under: Football, Soccer, Suzuki Cup, AFF, Philippines, Dan Palami, Simon McMenemy
JAKARTA—As far as team manager Dan Palami and coach Simon McMenemy are concerned, there is no reason for the Philippines to be disappointed after Indonesia ended its magical run in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals here Sunday night.
“We may have lost the battle, but we earned a lot of respect from the other teams,” said Palami, who has bankrolled the team since last year.
“[The Filipino players] will be disappointed but if they think about their journey to get here, I am sure they will feel proud,” said McMenemy.
The Filipinos pushed the Indonesians to the limit but were left undone by a marvelous goal from Indonesia’s Uruguayan-born striker Cristian Gonzales in each of the two-leg semifinals.
Gonzales headed home the game-winner in the first leg and repeated his heroics in the second match with a sensational long-range strike to secure the victory for the Indonesians.
McMenemy said he is proud of the Philippine team, which overachieved in this tournament.
The Filipinos beat Vietnam, 2-0, and drew with fancied squads Singapore and Burma (Myanmar) to reach the semifinals.
“I couldn’t ask anything more from them,” said McMenemy. “They created chances against the run of play, we pushed the men forward, we changed our shape a little but it didn’t work out at the end.”
“The boys are gutted as they would be after losing a semifinal, but to get to where they’ve got is an achievement,” added the Filipinos’ British coach.
He said the team still needs more talent to come in to be able to contend again.
“When we were looking for that extra push, I felt we fell short,” he said.
“I think that football fans genuinely appreciate hard work and that’s what we do. There’s no amazing tactic to how we play; we just grind it out, we get in there and make it difficult for the other team, and we work as hard as we can.
“I think that any football fan around the world can appreciate that.”
After getting a hostile welcome in this football-mad city, the Filipinos finally drew the appreciation of Indonesian fans after the match before 80,000 fans in Jakarta’s Bung Karno Stadium Sunday night.
Kind gestures from fans and motorists were a welcome sight for those in the team bus as it headed back to the hotel, where young fans later mobbed the players, posing for pictures and seeking autographs.