Jakarta: Despite the disappointment of missing out on the final of the AFF Suzuki Cup, Philippines captain Alexander Borromeo has expressed his pride in the team, which defied expectations to make it to the semi-finals of the regional championship for the first time.
The former whipping boys of the competition proved that they were more than up to the challenge this time by beating defending champions Vietnam and holding three-time winners Singapore to a draw en route to the last four.
Their dream was finally ended by Indonesia but only after two hard-fought matches in Jakarta, both of which ended 1-0 in favour of the home side.
"Our luck just ran out," Borromeo told www.affsuzukicup.com. "We had our chances from some set pieces but we got a bit unlucky and Indonesia deserved to go through.
"I'm very much honoured to be captain of this team. Finally, we have the right balance. Even with all the local and foreign guys, everyone creates a good mixture and that's what got us this far."
Borromeo, who made his international debut as a 21-year-old in 2004, feels that much credit for the team's performance should go to English coach Simon McMenemy, who has transformed the team's fortunes despite taking charge just four months before the tournament.
"He brought a new approach," said the Philippines skipper, 27. "Right from day one, he said he wanted the guys to be together all the time so that we could get proper cohesiveness in the team. That was really important because we communicate well on the pitch and that's one of our strengths.
"We would definitely like him to stay on. He got us this far and we don't really want to change anything apart from maybe adding a bit more firepower up front to help us get a few more goals. Hopefully the team stays intact for the next few years.
"I just hope we can keep up the momentum after this. We've got a few challenges coming up after this – the AFC Challenge Cup followed by the first round of the World Cup qualifiers – which we'll be participating in for the first time in eight years. We'll definitely have some things to aim for in the New Year."
Friday, 24 December 2010