By BONG PEDRALVEZ
MANILA — Disappointed by his lackluster showing in the recent Asian Challenge Cup group matches in Yangon, Myanmar, striker William Espinosa hopes to show he has the right stuff by suiting up for Global Smartmatic, the team of Philippine manager Dan Palami, starting next weekend in the United Football League.
“I was not happy with my form in Myanmar. That was not the real me,” said the 29-year-old Espinosa during a welcome dinner for the Azkals hosted by businessman Jack Rodriguez at the California Pizza Kitchen restaurant at the Glorietta 4 in Makati City Monday night.
Espinosa, who was adopted by a German family after his Laguna-born parents migrated to that country, was used sparingly by coach Hans Michael Weiss in Myanmar, mostly as a reliever in the waning minutes behind mainstays Chieffy Caligdong and Ian Araneta.
This was hardly what the slim, 5-foot-7 Espinoa expected after he impressed Weiss with his workouts with the national team in Bacolod last month that prompted the German mentor to include him on the roster to Myanmar.
But in his pre-tournament practice on the eve of their depature to the Myanmar capital, Espinosa didn’t look match fit, according to Weiss, who was forced to limit his playing time. Epinosa blamed the radical change in weather from the Philippines to his return to Germany after his Bacolod training that ruined his fitness, which robbed him of his usual explosiveness on the pitch.
“From 30-degree Celsius in the Philippines I was met by minus-15 when I went back to Germany, and this sapped my strength and affected my conditioning,” Espinosa said. He said when he turned up in Manila a week before the nationals left for the ACC Group A tourney, he still had not fully recovered his strength, which showed in the team’s lone practice at the University of Makati field after returning from Mongolia.
Since he was yet booked to go back to Germany on July 7, Espinosa said he requested his fifth German division club to release him momentarily so he could play for Palami’s UFL team. “My team knew how badly I wanted to play for our country so they released me.”
“I offered my services to Global Smartmatic and they had an opening so I was taken in,” he said, adding that he hoped to use his exposure in the UFL as a means to show that Weiss’ faith in him earlier was not wasted.“I want to show everyone that I am worthy to be an Azkal and play for our national team,” said Espinosa, who is eyeing to make his debut against Army at the UMAK pitch on Sunday.
By competing in the UFL, Espinosa is eager to show Filipino fans – and coach Weiss – that he deserves a second look so when the World Cup qualifiers come around in June, he can play for the Azkals and “sink his teeth” into the opposition. BP
via Pinoy Football