12780 tickets alloted for the same number of seats were released to the public for the most awaited game of the Azkals at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. the organizers had to adhere to the rules of the International Football Federation (IFF) regarding the venue and the field thus the usual venue’s cramped capacity of 20,000 had to be lowered down drastically to such number.
Go Azkals Go!
photo op at the entrance of Rizal Memorial Stadium
the ‘journey’ towards this football saga was a roller coaster ride of its kind. firstly, i felt it was really meant to be as we were able to purchase the 12777th to the 12780th tickets, the last 4 tickets available… it was that close for the 4 of us to almost not be able to watch the match. 1 week to the game, i had to call 3 ticketing outlets to just make sure that the 4 were still availabe. it was already 5pm on that day when i finally got word that my friend Rovi was able to purchase them. i was extatic that we were finally confirmed…and yes i am watching the FIFA Asian Qualifiers and the Azkals!
hard earned i should say
i had to do my homework for the upcoming match. i was not a FIFA World Cup Fan. I havent followed the game that much…so fifa.com became my pseudo facebook page for about two weeks. i had to familiarize and do a couple of recollection on everything that is football. i also had to study how to go to Rizal Memorial considering that the place is located just around the LRT route specifically in Vito Cruz (at the back of DLSU). i had to contemplate also if i should bring my vehicle or not. good thing i knew by heart what Manila Traffic is, so i opted not to and instead just commute. with that i also had to study a much nearer route from my house.
the 500P jersey, parang nag VIP section din tayo sa nagastos natin sa mga jerseys ah
as we all know, football equates passion and football fans exhibit the same passion in their own ways. and the best way to express that passion as a fan is to dress up and accessorize – in football fashion. again i had to research and do some window shopping for a football jersey and some fooball scarfs. good thing i was able to read over the net that stores selling football stuff are located around the stadium so i decided to just buy them right on the day of the match. i also did not miss studying the chants prepared by the Kaholeros die hard Azkal fans.
the fateful day
feeling neil etheridge
the match was scheduled at 3PM, i knew about the tight security and the strict compliance of the no ticket no entry policy in the stadium so i was kind of confident that even if we arrive a few seconds before the match starts, we are still able to take our assigned seats. we arrived at the venue 30 mins before the start. we roamed around to check on the stores selling Azkals merchandise. the atmosphere in the venue was very festive. a sea of blue and white covered almost every single floor area of the venue. drum beats from all around are heard and people are walking in all directions. i was able to buy a football jersey (the replica worn by Etheridge during their AFC cup game vs. Mongolia). i also bought a fan as i thought it will be a sunny day. i tried to look for face painting booths – i havent found any, i havent found any booth without a looong line of people waiting for their faces to be painted. so i decided to just forego w/ the face painting and settle for the jersey and the fan.
among the 13thousand strong
at the same time we entered the stadium, the Azkals where introduced one by one on the field already. we had to find our seats w/c unfotunately was located right at the back of the goal and tried to settle down amidst a roaring crowd. it was again a sea of blue and white sorrounding the whole of the stadium, Philippine flags are being waved all over the place with one giant flag being displayed right at the center of the bleachers. the Kaholeros then started the drums rolling and chants were repeatedly performed to familiarize the crowd. everybody was already on their feet even if the match has not yet started.
basang basa sa ulan mode
then came the singing of the national anthem. it was a patriotic moment for me (quite emotional actually) as i sang the Lupang Hinirang it on top of my voice with the rest of the 13thousand fans and the whole Azkals in unison and with pride. the game started and so as the heavy rain. it didn’t dampen my spirit at all, instead, it aggravated my excitement all the more considering it was going to be a wet and wild game! i carried on w/ my cheering for the Azkals until the first goal came. i got lost in heaven for a few seconds. it was all shouting, jumping, the whole 9 yards, everything! and it continued until the 4th goal and finally the whistle signifying the end of the match was heard.
where to go? asus.
by the end of the game i was all wet and slimy, but i just felt it didnt matter anymore… it was all worth it. i lost my voice in the process but it was all cool. after the match we head on to the nearest fastfood chain onsite (Mang Inasal) to regain back the lost energy from all the shouting. a few more hours of chithatting about the match followed until we all decided to call it a day because my wet underwear is getting uncomfy already.
Sri Lanka down Kuwait next
while i am composing this blog i am talking to Rovi to once again finalize our purchase of the tickets for the match against Kuwait on the 28th. this time there will around 8 of us already who is going to watch. i am also saving up for a few jerseys because my friends from Cebu are asking me to buy for them.
what to expect? i hope dark blue jerseys will be onsale come the big day. lol. well i am nervous for this match, knowing the specifics of the Kuwaiti team. man they are Asia’s team to beat! this will definitely be a match worth the watch. Let us all pray for our Azkals team. nothing is possible in prayer.
Go Azkals Go! tsug 12x PILIPINASSSS!!!