Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Inside Sports

Azkals easy choice over Sri Lankans

We have returned to the land of our birth and our Sri Lankan heritage to cover the 2014 World Cup qualifying football match between the Philippine Azkals and the Sri Lankan national team at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo on June 29.
It’s been quite an experience to see the many dramatic changes since the last time we were here in 1981 as head of the Philippine delegation to the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union congress.
It feels really good that peace has returned to the country through a strong leadership that entertains no foreign dictation on how things should be done.
But we are here with a sense of genuine pride and a feeling of gratitude that our friends from the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN led by  Gabby Lopez and vice president for sports Peter Musngi selected us to do the telecast along with a sporting friend, Bob Guerrero.
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Just  like in Manila, people have asked me which team I will be rooting for. Not too difficult a question to answer.
Either we could take the easy way out and respond by saying that as a broadcaster of the match, we are not supposed to take sides. But that would be, in our minds at least, a cop out.
Our reply has always been that, while we value our Sri Lankan heritage and cheer for the country in its  remarkable exploits on the cricket field, we cherish the honor bestowed upon us of Philippine citizenship. And having lived in that wonderful land which we regard as home, our loyalties surely rest with the Philippines.
This is as it should be because we consider loyalty to the land that has accepted us as one of its own a virtue. There have been times in which our unadulterated loyalty has cost us.
We shall never lose sight of the fact that it is a value that is essential in this day and age.
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As for the match itself, the Sri Lankans—as they necessarily need to do—have expressed confidence that they will prevail on aggregate scores in the home-and-away series.
We cannot see, though, how they can achieve this goal with the incredible talent of the foreign-bred Filipinos in our national team.
We believe that after an intensive training camp in Germany under coach Michael Weiss, the Azkals should prevail and return home to Manila to seal the victory before a sell-out crowd at the historic Rizal Memorial Stadium and continue the renaissance in Philippine football.


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TAGS: 2014 World Cup Qualifying, Football, Sports, Sri Lanka
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