Bacolod United FC beat Ex-Malay Mail Veteran FC 3-2 in the final of the inaugural Philippines-Malaysia Veteran Soccer Tournament 2009 at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City yesterday evening.
For the visitors it was an achievement reaching the final itself. The team came for the tournament with only 13 players and many of them played with injuries or were a spent force by the time they reached the final at the end of the two-day tournament. Matches were played over thirty minutes each half and Malay Mail were playing their fourth match of the tournament in the final.
But it was sheer determination and guts led by skipper Hasnul Ramlan Khairuddin, that saw Malay Mail score the first goal in the final through former Kedah and Kuala Lumpur midfielder Mohd Faridzul Kassim.
But the match officials had different ideas. Two poor decisions by the referee and his assistant from Ililo City, saw Malay Mail trailing at halftime time.
Bocolod United's first goal was through a penalty offered to them when Hasnul was shielding a ball which was going out of play. Despite protests from the players with the referee, he stood his ground.
Both goal were scored by former Philippines national player, Norman Fedidero Jr, who is famous in his country for the goal he scored against the Malaysian national team for their 1-0 win in the 1991 Sea Games in Manila.
However, Malay Mail undeterred by the setback, came back strongly to find the equaliser through U. Supramaniam in the second half, but only to concede a late goal scored by Greg Gustilo, to go down to Bacolod Utd. FC.
Malay Mail reached the final yesterday, after collecting three points through default from their first game against ERCO Cebu which they lost 4-1. But the Malay Mail team sent in a protest to the organising committee of their suspect that the opponents had violated the eligibility rule of fielding more than three 35 years old and above.
The tournament eligibility rule states that teams are allowed to register ONLY THREE players who are above 35 years old and the rest must be 40 years above.
Malay Mail won the protest, as the organising committee after checking the identity cards of the players of ERCO Cebu, found out that they had fielded 6 players who were below 40 years.
After going down to Bacolod City 2-0 in the next Group match, a do-or-die mission was at hands for the final Group match against Real Negrense.
Malay Mail battled to win the match 4-3 and qualify for the final. Utility player Masaaud Zain scored the first two goals with his clinical headings, while striker U. Supramaniam scored the other two goals.
Malay Mail came back into the game from a goal down, before going three up. Then Real Negrence narrowed the lead, before Malay Mail score for a 4-2 score. Negrence then scored another for the final score.
It was a great tournament with the Philippines FA directly involved in the organisation of the tournament. Even the national anthems played before the match after a walk-in for the match with the FIFA Fair Play flag to make the tournament world -class. The Panaad Stadium was an excellent venue and the hospitality was first-class, as the people of Bacolod are known for.
For the Malay Mail team, it was great coming back to Negros Occidental (Bacolod City and Iloilo City) which holds fond memories for many players who during their younger days played in the Philippines Cup from the inaugural tournament in 1991.
Kudos to organising chairman, Rafael T. Lizares Jr, PFF secretary, Cyril V. Dofitas, and Match Commissioner, Warren Conception.
This tournament will definitely be an annual affair and with every signs that is going to get bigger with more teams participating. Plans are to have the second tournament in May next year.
The tournament concluded with a Victory Dinner at the poolside of the Luxur Place (official hotel) last night.
The Malay Mail received accolades from the host and also local newspaper Sun Star, which commended the team for having initiated this tournament and getting the support of FA of Malaysia too.
Columist for Sun Star, Henry C. Villalva, had his heading for his column read: Malay Mail's shot in the arm for Philippine football.
He praised the team not for rekindling the traditional Philippines-Malaysia soccer ties, but more importantly said the tournament was able to re-ignite the special football link between Bacolod City and the Malay Mail which first started in 1991 when the team competed in the President's Cup invitation tournament organised by former Bacolod Councilor and then president of the Negros Occidental Football Association (NOFA, Cano Tan.
Cano Tan, who will be running for Congressman of Bacolod City in the coming elections early next year, hosted the whole Malay Mail team for a sumptuous lunch at his residence on Monday.
The Ex-Malay Mail team for the tournament had donated a challenge trophy, courtesy of former Kuala Lumpur and Singapore soccer player, K. Kannan, bought and brought all the prizes for the tournament, provided souvenir Line7 collared T-Shirts complete with the tournament logo (designed by Malay Mail graphic artist Ravi) and official brochures for the tournament (below)
The team would like to go on record to thank our many supporters for making this trip possible. They include Datuk Azzuddin Ahmad (FA of Malaysia) Datuk Abdullah Hishan, Ng Ping Loong (MILO) rally driver R. Gunaseelan, Andrew Gopal (UKRC), Terence W.K. Cheong (LINE 7), Abdul Khani Daud and Mohd Sori Ismail (Tourism Malaysia), Chris Thiagarajah (SKYBUS) , Rafael T. Lizares Jr (Luxur Place), Robert Lazarus (WRL Advertising n Production (M) Sdn Bhd, K. Kannan, Datuk Choi, Mohd Rasol Raman Mustapha, Tengku Noriza Tengku Ramli and all others who have supported in us in one way or other.
Appreciation and many thanks also to our friends in Bacolod City, Joey, his wife Lesley, daughter Nikki, Jerry and his wife Taa and children Gwen and Daniel for being a perfect host in looking after us during our stay.
The Ex-Malay Mail team during their stay in Bacolod City, also made a presentation of two sets of old jerseys (courtesy of UKRC), Milo T-Shirts and Milo drink sachets and balls to a local schools soccer development programme.
The team returned home early this morning (Wednesday).
Come May, the ex-Malay Mail team will return even stronger, for they intend to start regular friendly matches every fortnight as part of their preparation for the tournament. This time, they definitely intend to return with a bigger and stronger squad.
In all probability to accompany them in May will be close friends of the team, UKRC and probably either International Football Club (IFC) or team from Penang.
Plans have been finalised for IFC to play a friendly match against Bacolod United FC on January 28 next year. The team is going for a holiday. The arrangements were made by the scribe who is close with Cano, the former PFF secretary, Edward Magalonna who played a key role in making the tournament over the weekend a reality and current PFF secretary, Cyril Dofitas.
Indeed, the fire in Bacolod City has been rekindled!
The jerseys and Milo T-shirts and sachets being presented to the Edward Magollana, the former PFF secretary-general, and the coaches, who are involved in the development programme.
1st Day (Saturday, 24th Oct 2009)
Bacolod United FC 3 Real Negrense FC 1
ERCO Cebu 0 Ex-Malay Mail Veterans FC 3
(Malay Mail won on default)
Negrense FC 1 ERCO Cebu 3
Ex-Malay Mail Veterans FC 0 Bacolod United 2
2nd Day (Sunday, 25th Oct 2009)
Negrense FC 3 Ex-Malay Mail Veterans FC 4
Bacolod United FC 2 ERCO Cebu 0
3rd Placing Match:
Real Negrence FC 2 ERCO Cebu 0
Bacolod United FC 3 Ex-Malay Mail Veterans FC 2
Champion: Bacolod United FC
Runner-up: Ex-Malay Mail Veterans FC
2nd Runner-up: Real Negrence FC
3rd Runner-up: ERCO Cebu
Veteran of the Veterans: Salvador Lacson Jr (Real Negrence FC) - 74 years-old
Midfield Maestro: Mohd Faridzul Kassim (Ex-Malay Mail FC)
Top Striker: Norman Fegidero Jr (Bacolod Utd FC)
Man of the Match (Final): Norman Fegidero Jr (Bacolod Utd FC)
Picture gallery: (more pictures here)