IF YOU noticed the crowd during the last two Azkal matches, the folks were wearing the team’s colors—white for the Mongolia game and blue (even if it was the away color) for the Sri Lanka match.
And let me tell you, that has never happened before.
The Bacolod match was simply enthralling, as a sea of folks in white jerseys came, after Dan Palami and the team asked the fans to come in white.
And these were no ordinary white shirts. They were official team replicas that cost P1,995 a pop as fans, because of fierce team loyalty, have taken to buying only the official merchandise.
Even the cheaper official practice jerseys that sell for P1,500, are being gobbled up. And when one fan spotted a fake jersey being sold in a Manila stall, fans were promptly warned, “Don’t buy this!”
For Mizuno, the official outfitter of the Azkals, its investment on the team is paying dividends.
Or is it?
For months, fans in Cebu have been grumbling, they can’t find the jersey in the Mizuno stall in Ayala and inquiries are met with the vague it-will-be-available-answer-next-week reply.
The team, too, had to deal with this problem. During their friendly game against the UFL All-Stars, their jersey didn’t arrive on time. That’s why they had to wear those red jerseys so they could put the patches of their sponsors and Neil Etheridge had to done that yellow uniform that didn’t have a name nor number on it.
Mizuno, of course, blasted the Azkals for disloyalty by not wearing their jerseys in that match.
Piece of bull, I thought and I went on hoping Mizuno would finally offer the PHL jerseys on sale.
No such luck.
Three weeks before the home game against Sri Lanka, I went to the store and browsed around. One attendant, perhaps no longer a stranger to solitary guys checking their jerseys on sale, said, “The Azkals jersey isn’t available yet. Just come back next week.”
I went back twice, no such luck.
Return next week, I was told.
That reminded me of an incident back in 05, when fans, after searching futilely for replica jerseys (I’m not sure if Mizuno was the official outfitter) suggested to have someone make knock-offs for fans.
No! Someone from the PFF quickly shot that down. Mass-producing knock-offs was a poor way of saying thank you to the official outfitter, he said, and the move quickly died.
While I won’t go as far as that with my Mizuno disappointment, I promised myself that when Mizuno finally offers the jersey on sale in Cebu?
I’ll just buy them next week.
Sun Star Cebu