U-23 Azkals must prove worth, says POC chiefBy Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
If they can prove they can win, the country’s Under-23 football may be allowed to join the Philippine delegation to the Myanmar (Burma) Southeast Asian Games this December.
“First they must provide us some records of their previous performances that would prove they can win, and they must also know who are the tough teams they will be facing in the SEA Games,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. yesterday.
If the Philippine Football Federation can make the standards, “they are in,” he added.
Cojuangco said that this ruling also applies to all team sports wanting to secure slots for the biennial Games, including the women’s football team Malditas, the men’s futsal squad and even the women’s basketball team.
The Under-23 team finished with a 1-4 win-loss record in Group B of the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia and failed to advance to the medal round. The lone win was a 1-0 triumph over Laos.
The team started its preparation for this year’s SEA Games with a 1-0 loss to Singapore in a friendly at the Hougans Stadium.
The POC and the funding Philippine Sports Commission earlier declared that they will only send individual sports in Burma, except for the Gilas men’s basketball squad, the perennial gold winner.
But the PFF raised a howl, saying they are willing to fund the young Azkals’ trip, and that not seeing action in the SEAG would give “the wrong signals” to their private sponsors. Officials said nonparticipation would also derail the resurgence of sport.
The PSC previously said that it won’t send a team to the Games out of protest over the large number of indigenous sports included in the SEA Games calendar at the expense of several Olympic sports. Then it softened its stand and said it will only shoulder the plane fare, accommodations and allowances of no more than 200 athletes.