Finding a way to make an impact for the national team even with the influx of talented players who honed their skills abroad, Chieffy Caligdong and Eduard Sacapano will be honored as co-winners of Mr. Football in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Milo Annual Awards night next Saturday.
Hailing from the football hotbed of Western Visayas, Caligdong and Sacapano played key roles in ensuring that 2012 would be another banner year for the Beautiful Game in the country.
Caligdong and Sacapano join more than 50 athletes and sports personalities who will be recognized in the two-hour gala topbilled by boxers Nonito Donaire Jr, Josie Gabuco, Manila women’s softball team, and Ateneo Blue Eagles as co-winners of the Athlete of the Year award.
“For the second straight year, the PSA is handing out a Mr. Football award which deservingly belongs to Chieffy Caligdong and Eduard Sacapano as co-winners,” said PSA president Rey Bancod of Tempo.
With a fighting heart belying his size, the Pototan, Iloilo-born Caligdong has become the face of the homegrown Filipino player.
Caligdong’s biggest performance in 2012 came in Bangkok, Thailand in the AFF Suzuki Cup, where he came in as a late substitute and struck the only goal in the 1-0 triumph over Vietnam that put the Azkals back in the semifinal hunt.
It marked the second straight year that Caligdong was given the accolade, after sharing the spotlight with Phil Younghusband last year.
Long in the shadow of Neil Etheridge, Sacapano seized his opportunity to shine when the Fil-British goalkeeper was unavailable last year.
Sacapano helped the Azkals clinch a historic third-place finish in the AFC Challenge Cup.
But it was in the Philippine Peace Cup, which the Azkals ruled in September, where Sacapano grew in confidence and earned the Best Goalkeeper award. In the buildup to the Suzuki Cup, the Bago City-born standout kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win against Singapore by producing a string of spectacular saves.
Later in the year, he proved to be more than just a replacement with a solid performance in the Suzuki Cup, where the Azkals reached the semifinals for the second straight tournament.
The awards night is presented by SM Prime Holdings, Globalport 900, Meralco, Rain or Shine, ICTSI and Philippine Golf Tour, Philippine Basketball Association, LBC, Smart, Senator Chiz Escudero and Philippine Sports Commission.