PH booters’ harrowing experience
HITHADHOO, Maldives—It was a ride they would never forget—for all the wrong reasons.
As if facing a tough Afghanistan side was not enough, the Philippine Azkals had to endure a risky and rough speedboat ride Tuesday night from Herathera Island Resort to Gan Island, where they were playing their AFC Challenge Cup Group B opener at Hithadhoo Stadium.
The usual 20-minute speedboat ride turned into a harrowing experience for the players, who grew restless when they were asked to transfer to a bigger boat in the middle of choppy waters.
“It was unbelievable for them (organizers) to ask us to transfer in those rough waters,” said defender Anton del Rosario.
The big waves and darkness made it difficult for the two boats to connect and the players, coaches and staff vehemently refused to transfer boats.
Azkals manager Dan Palami had to calm the players down as the speedboat stopped in the middle of choppy waters in a gripping 10 minutes in open sea.
The Azkals eventually reached Gan Island on the same speedboat, but some of the players suffered from seasickness, including Paul Mulders, who was scratched off from the starting eleven late due to the illness. Stephan Schrock was also throwing up as he reached land.
“No doubt, Maldives is a good place for a vacation, but for a competition it is impractical and logistically demanding,” said Palami.
“The amount of time wasted on loading and unloading of team equipment is simply too taxing on the players and the staff.”
The Afghanistan team stayed behind the island resort as it waited for the water to calm before leaving for Gan. The conditions forced the AFC to move the kickoff an hour later.
After the match ended in a scoreless draw, the ordeal didn’t end for the Azkals who had to travel for a couple of hours more to get back to the island, depriving them of rest from a rough match.