THE PHILIPPINE Football Federation yesterday vowed to form stronger teams for the football competitions of the Southeast Asian Games despite the uncertainty of participation by the Under-23 men’s and women’s sides in the biennial event in Myanmar in December.
Reacting to media reports that the two teams will be left out of the lean PH delegation due to the Philippine Sports Commission’s stringent criteria for participation, the PFF has sought clarification from the Philippine Olympic Committee on the matter.
“We want to know officially if we will be included in the SEA Games delegation since we have already started preparations for the two teams,” said PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes.
“We actually have stronger teams compared to two years ago.”
The improving Malditas impressed in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifying last month, winning two matches and barely losing to powerhouse Thailand.
The men’s Under-23 side has more experience with the team made up mostly of players who were part of the squad two years ago in Indonesia.
“If budget constraints are a big consideration, the PFF is ready to spend with the help of sponsors for the participation of the teams,” said Gastanes.
Meanwhile, the national men’s team of coach Michael Weiss is slated to face the United Arab Emirates on Nov. 9 in Abu Dhabi.
The Azkals wont be playing in a major tournament until March next year when they vie in the AFC Challenge Cup in the Maldives.
The UAE has long been a powerhouse in the continent and it will mark the first time since the Azkals’ rise in 2010 that the two countries will face off.
The Azkals could end up facing UAE twice in two months with a possible match between the two teams in China in the first week of October. The UAE will use the match as part of its preparation for the Asian Cup Qualifying match against Hong Kong.
Gastanes said the PFF has also been asked by the Department of Foreign Affairs to explore the possibility of playing a friendly in China against its national team in October.