DESPITE the influx of Fil-foreign players, two proud sons of football hotbed Western Visayas made the most impact for the sport in the year that was.
Chieffy Caligdong of Pototan, Iloilo, struggled with his game, but delivered when the chips were down for the Philippine Azkals, while Eduard Sacapano of Bago City, Negros Occidental was solid as a rock all season in stressing his point that goalkeeping with the national team is more than just Neil Etheridge.
Together, the two played stellar roles in keeping the fire burning for the beautiful game in a country whose first love remains basketball.
For their efforts, Caligdong and Sacapano will be honored as Mr. Football during the PSA-Milo Annual Awards Night set Saturday next week at the grand ballroom of the Manila Hotel.
Sacapano, 33, is a first-time winner, while Caligdong, 30, was recipient of the award first instituted by the country’s oldest media organization in last year’s edition of the gala night 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.
“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.
Coming in as a substitute in the second half, Caligdong fired the game-winning goal in the Azkals’ 1-0 stunner of Vietnam in the preliminaries that gave the Azkals a new lease on life in their Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup campaign.
Not to be outdone was Sacapano, who held the fort for the Azkals during the times when Etheridge was not available.
Sacapano was the team’s last line of defense when it won the Philippine Peace Cup, where he was named Best Goalkeeper.
He was also the Man of the Match in the Azkals’ friendly against Singapore, and goalkeeper of the team when it clinched third place in the Challenge Cup opposite Palestine, and in the AFF Suzuki Cup where the team again made it all the way to the semifinals.
Caligdong and Sacapano are among the more than 50 personalities who will be honored during the two-hour rites 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.