Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Coaches laud stunning Filipino win


JAKARTA: The after-effects of the Philippines' stunning 2-0 win over defending champions Vietnam on Sunday are not being felt only in Hanoi. On Monday, the shock result was also a hot topic for officials and journalists gathered in Indonesia for the Group A matches in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The Filipinos have been one of the tournament's traditional whipping boys and they hold the record for the tournament's heaviest defeat, a 13-1 thrashing by Indonesia in 2002. But having drawn 1-1 with three-time champions Singapore in their tournament opener, they now stand on the brink of the semi-finals after a resolute performance against the Vietnamese.

The general consensus in Jakarta was that their win against the Vietnamese was not undeserved.

Said Thailand coach Brian Robson: "I went to the tournament where the Philippines and Laos qualified for the finals and I was that you can't underestimate any of those teams because they were well organised and they have had very good preparations where they've been together for three to four months.

"When teams are organised, you can't dismiss them and the Philippines showed that last night in their victory against Vietnam."

Having seen his side pegged back to a 2-2 draw by the Philippines in the qualifiers, after holding a two-goal lead, Laos coach David Booth was not surprised by the result.

"I thought that the Philippines were absolutely terrific and I thought that their discipline was absolutely superb," the Englishman said.

For Indonesia coach Wolfgang Pikal, the result is yet another indication that the level of Filipino football is now very close to the top teams in the region.

"I think that the gap is very close," the Austrian said. "The Philippines played very well last night. They have a lot of players playing abroad and they did their homework. I think they're doing a good job because a few years ago, everyone was expecting them to be beaten easily."

And Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal believes that the result is a positive development for the regional football tournament.

"You see that things have turned around in Asean football and I'm not surprised with the result," he said. "The Philippines have got some good players from abroad in their side, just like Singapore, and they are now a very competitive team. Their win yesterday has boosted their standing and they are serious contenders to reach the semi-finals.

"You definitely cannot take any of teams in this tournament lightly anymore. That's good because it make things much more exciting for everyone.

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