July 17, 2011

Japan wins 1st World Cup title in penalty shootout.

Japan lifted the women's World Cup with a dramatic win over the USA on Sunday, delivering a boost to the morale of a country still reeling from the deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori made two saves as the final was settled by a penalty shoot-out before defender Saki Kumagai converted the spot-kick to give Japan their first World Cup title.

Under captain Homare Sawa, Japan won the hearts of fans with impressive displays just four months after the national disaster.

The massive earthquake -- registering 8.9 on the richter scale -- and resulting tsunami devastated the northeast coast of Japan, killing thousands and sparking the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

While none of the Japan squad were directly caught up in the disaster, the Japanese women's football league was heavily effected.

Worst hit of all was the TEPCP Mareeze club, based near Fukushima, which was forced to suspend playing activity and withdraw from the L-League, Japan's top women's league, for the entire season.

The players were forced to train elsewhere, but left-back Aya Sameshima, who played in Sunday's final, was taken on by US team Boston Breakers.

The start of the season was delayed by a month to help conserve power, while the men's professional J-League was put on hold for six weeks.

The women's league was harder hit as the majority of players are amateurs who fit training and playing around their work or studies.

With morale low across the country, the players found it difficult to return to football, let alone think about the women's World Cup.

"Early on, I felt that it might not be the right moment to play football and that I should have something else to do," said Japan defender Azusa Iwashimizu.

"But after a while, when the team activities had stopped and I was training alone, it made me realise just how much I love to play football."

With many of the 'Nadeshiko' are based in Japan, their World Cup preparations were badly affected.

When the USA recorded back-to-back 2-0 wins over Japan during friendlies in March, coach Norio Sasaki admitted his side were not as well prepared as their American rivals.

But Japan matured and developed in Germany.

Group stage wins over New Zealand and Mexico were followed by a 2-0 defeat to England before the Nadeshiko pulled off the giant-killing of the tournament to beat Germany in the quarter-finals, then Sweden in the last four.

And Sunday's dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over the United States completed the fairytale as Japan beat the USA for the first time at the 26th attempt.


Amanda Coling is the Fashion Model Azkal Rape Victim?

MESSAGE: to everyone who has been sending me messages of Love and Support, Thank You so much... going thru such ordeal is so much easier because of u... I love you all... God bless! and i am proud of each and everyone of u.... Thank You God for blessing my heart with wisdom,strenght,love,compassio​n and FORGIVENESS...

A model was reportedly kicked out of one of the special segments in the FHM’s 100 Sexiest victory party held on July 14 because of her purported involvement in the Philippine Azkals’ rape controversy---as the alleged victim.

“How would you feel kung nadawit ka, or 'yung anak mo or sister mo 'di ba? So you can just imagine how I feel, 'di ba?” the model, whose face was not shown on camera, told “TV Patrol” in a taped interview aired on Thursday.

However, she refused to talk about the controversial issue at hand as she and her lawyer are still looking into the case.

“I already referred that matter to my lawyer and he advised me not to be out in the open until we have studied the case thoroughly including all its ramifications. So for now, no comment on that issue.

“'Pag na-rape ka ba mapu-prove mo ba agad sa 'kin 'yun or whatever? 'Di ba? So no comment on that [rape allegation],” she stressed.

In a separate report by PEP, published also on Thursday, the model related that she was already informed of her status in the FHM 100 Sexiest victory party. Still, she came to the venue to “insist to be still in the show” and was still able to join the morning rehearsal.

“GMA-7 was able to record it na I was rehearsing for the show, [but] two people talked to me again and told me that they really have to pull me out from the show,” she was quoted by PEP as saying.

She also admits to feeling harassed, saying, “Why is my job being taken away from me? This is my job.”

Asked by PEP if her being pulled out of the show was in any way connected to the Azkals issue, the model replied, “You tell me, do you think it has something to do with the Azkals? Would you be here interviewing me if my name was not being linked to the Azkals?”

Apollo Sangalang, the model’s lawyer, also sent in a text message, as shown in the same “TV Patrol” report, saying that they “have yet to decide on the next step to take re the case.”

Sangalang cited the issue’s complicated and personal nature as their reasons for doing so, adding that “because [girl's name edited out] is a model, she doesn't want this issue to appear like a publicity stunt.

“And next she also doesn't want to downgrade [or] put in a bad light or pull down the entire Azkal team and the entire Phil football. She doesn't want to do that,” he insisted.

More, the report said that based on the model’s Facebook profile, she is currently a Physics major studying at the University of the Philippines.

FHM, in its statement published in abovementioned PEP article, confirmed that the model was indeed pulled out from the show but clarified, “it's the brand's prerogative because it's their segment buy in the show... We just want to make it clear, hindi FHM ang nagpa-pull out sa kanya.”

In the midst of rigorous training for their upcoming World Cup qualifying match vs. Kuwait on July 23, four members of the Azkals – namely Neil Etheridge, Jason Sabio, Simon Greatwich and Anton del Rosario – were accused early this week by a certain Paul Weiler, allegedly a self-proclaimed Philippine Football Federation consultant, of raping a woman the players allegedly met at a bar.

As of this writing, all the accused, except for Etheridge, have already personally disproved these allegations through interviews aired in “24 Oras” and “TV Patrol.”

Sexy actress Michelle Madrigal, who apparently was also being speculated in blogs and Internet forums as the yet-to-be-named alleged rape victim, also reacted on the issue on July 12.

However, she did not clarify in her statement whether she’s addressing just the rape allegation as a whole, or if she’s also answering the rape victim rumor.

“Morning!don't believe everything u read online or on the papers.its all rumors n accuzation.thanks to all my fans for being on my side and for the narrow minded people,may god bless u.let's stay positive everyone! Think 1st sa tingin nyo ba kung nangyari talaga yun will be active on twitter? The boys don't need this right now.lets pray that they win the game vs kuwait!” Madrigal’s tweet read.

Recall that Madrigal was rumored a few weeks back to have been dating Etheridge. She later on disproved this through Twitter and said that she is just good friends with the striker.

“People should stop assuming..I'm friends with neil,simon n anton.wala naman kayong alam kaya sana wag kayo gumawa ng kwento.don't hate coz I'm cool w them!to all the fans I'm NOT dating neil etheridge.I don't normally care about what people say but your words are hurting me deeply.thank u n godbless!” she posted on July 4.

Etheridge, in a separate exclusive interview with PEP, likewise denied dating Madrigal.

In related news, Azkals’ team manager Dan Palami laments that some of his team members are being accused of rape at such a crucial time.

“It is unfortunate that as we prepare for one of the most important matches, issues that are based on sources that have been proven to be non-credible are being used to malign several members of the team,” Palami’s exclusive statement sent via text message to PEP on July 14.

Palami further stated that he “will never tolerate actions such as those being alleged and would certainly take disciplinary action on erring players” as manager.

However, like what he already claimed in a live interview with “24 Oras” on Monday, Palami maintained that he “need[s] more than an internet blog, and a statement of a purported PFF [Philippine Football Federation] Consultant that has been officially disowned by the PFF itself, before i can take action."

In a separate phone interview, also with PEP on Wednesday, the team manager stressed that Weiler “is not in any way related to the team."

In his SMS statement, Palami went on to say that the team is “trying to focus on the job we have to do..."

More, the same PEP report cited two unnamed sources close to the Azkals who told them that the rape accusation is “not true.”