Araneta aiming for Jakarta redemption

Thursday, December 16, 2010
He was part of a Philippines team that made some unwanted history in Jakarta in 2002. But eight years on, Ian Araneta is now a veteran on a squad looking to achieve something far more positive at the same venue in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The striker first appeared in the tournament as a 20-year-old in 2002, playing in a side that lost all four of their games at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

The lowest point came in their final game against hosts Indonesia, who needed a big win to secure a spot in the semi-finals. The net result was a 13-1 loss for the Azkals, which is the heaviest ever defeat in tournament history.

"It was a very bad day for us – it was humiliating," said Araneta, who came on as a second-half substitute when his side were already 9-0 down.

"The crowd was amazing and so noisy because they were cheering on Indonesia, who had to score at least eight goals to qualify for the semi-finals."

Thankfully for Araneta, his national side have moved on since that embarrassing setback.

Defensively strong and well organised, the Filipinos have conceded only one goal so far in this year's AFF Suzuki Cup, are unbeaten after three matches and have qualified for the semi-finals of the competition for the first time.

For Araneta, the key difference between the teams of then and now is in their organisation.

"The team that we had then and the one we have now are totally different," he explained. "Back then, the team was only organised about two months before the tournament started while the current team have been together a longer time – about a year – and we are like brothers now.

"I am very proud and happy because this team has the potential to change football in the Philippines. And for sure, we're not going to let Indonesia score 13 goals again."


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