MANILA, Philippines -- The Filipino booters finally lived up to their “Miracle Team” billing with a huge 6-2 upset of Brazil last Thursday in the Deloitte Street Child World Cup indoor football tournament in Durban, South Africa.
Shrugging off a 0-2 loss to Tanzania 2 days ago, the RP squad, led by coach Jess Landagan, worked like a well-oiled soccer machine, surging to a 4-1 halftime lead before scoring two more goals in the next period in wrapping up the monumental win in front of a roaring South African gallery.
It marked the first time that the Philippines beat Brazil, a world football power, at the international level.
The victory boosted the team, co-managed by Craig Burrows of Britain, into the shield competition after finishing the Group B preliminaries with a 1-2 win-loss slate.
“We prayed for a breakthrough for the RP ‘Miracle Team,’ and it was answered in a big way with this win over the Brazilians,” said co-manager Ed Formoso, who again thanked British charity Angus Lawon Memorial Trust for making the stint possible.
Formoso also cited the Henry V. Moran Foundation, which staged the tryouts that led to the formation of a competitive squad to the South African soccer fest.
“It seems that Tinikling footwork beat Samba footwork,” noted RP women’s team skipper Marielle Benitez, when informed of the historic triumph Thursday night.
Benitez, a member of the world-famous Bayanihan dance troupe, earlier gave the RP members lessons in the popular folk dance that requires nimble feet between two bamboo poles as part of the team’s off-pitch extracurricular activities.
The Philippines next plays Ukraine on Friday (Saturday in Manila) with the winner taking on the victor of the other Shield semifinals between host South Africa and Brazil for the Shield Cup on Friday.