Monday, 20 December 2010

McMenemy proud of Filipino progress


Jakarta: Philippines coach Simon McMenemy felt that his players had no reason to be upset after their 1-0 loss to Indonesia in the second leg of the semi-finals on Sunday which eliminated them from the AFF Suzuki Cup.

Cristian Gonzales' strike two minutes before half-time secured a 2-0 win for the Indonesians, who will now meet Malaysia in the final.

But McMenemy expressed pride in his players, who had already exceeded expectations by reaching the last four of the regional championship. McMenemy proud of Filipino progress

"It was a very good game against very good opposition with amazing fans, and an amazing experience. They boys are gutted as they would be after losing a semi-final but to get to where they've got is an achievement," the Englishman said.

"I couldn't ask anything more of them – they created chances against the run of play, we pushed men forward, we changed our shape a little but it didn't work out at the end. However, I'm very proud to be the Philippines head coach and I'm very proud of my players tonight."

For McMenemy, the timing of Gonzales' goal, just before the interval, was crucial to the game.

"It kind of knocked the wind out of our sails a little bit," he explained. "They made some good chances in the first half and they caused us problems. But we rode our luck a little bit and got bodies in the way and gave it everything we had.

"But when you've got someone of the quality of Gonzales, it's tough. He would have had to put it into the top corner because (goalkeeper) Neil Etheridge is a big lad and if he had put it anywhere else, it wouldn't have gone in."

The Philippines were booed throughout the match by the partisan Indonesian fans at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. But there was plenty of mutual respect shown after the final whistle when McMenemy and his players went around the pitch to applaud the spectators.

"You'd expect them to be on your backs during the game but the fans were great in the end. They all clapped for us when we went round.

"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."

McMenemy had a bit of a Jose Mourinho moment during his pitch inspection before the game when the boos and catcalls of the home fans rained down on him while he walked alone in the middle of the field. But the Philippines coach claimed that the whole episode had occurred inadvertently.

"It was quite weird because I went out for the pitch inspection with a few of the boys, but when I looked around, the boys had gone so I was out there on my own. And everywhere I looked in the crowd, that part of the crowd started booing me. I looked down at the ground and when I looked up again, another area of the crowd started booing me. It's one of those things – it's nice to have a bit of backwards and forwards going on with the crowd.

"It's an incredible experience and we're very envious of that kind of support. The fans know their football and they're very passionate. Before the game, they were banging on our bus and making it very intimidating, but they're still good mannered enough to clap us off at the end after seeing that we've worked really hard. That's what real fans are."

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