Palami to keep U-23 Azkals for 2013 despite SEAG defeat
JAKARTA—Dan Palami, the prime mover behind football’s resurgence back home, is not about to abandon the Philippine Under-23 squad despite its disastrous showing in the 26th Southeast Asian Games here.
“We will keep the team and make it ready for 2013,” Palami told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday, a day after the Azkals were humiliated, 0-5, by Myanmar for their third loss in these Games.
“It’s a promise I am making, one that I also did in 2009 with the original Azkals.”
Palami spent his own money in bringing a huge number of Fil-foreigners to play for the Philippines here, but it was a move that came a tad late with the players struggling to achieve cohesion—an integral part of a winning team.
“Players, management and even the (Philippine Football) Federation should learn from this,” Palami said. “We should put resources into this and act on this.”
The Azkals, going into their final match Tuesday against Brunei at 7 p.m. at the Lebak Bulus Stadium, have a 1-0-3 record, leaving the Philippines groping still for that elusive medal in the sport.
Palami believes that the Philippines has some of the best individual players in the tournament, but lack of time to make them jell told heavily on the squad.
“Our errors, defensive lapses really emphasized how young the team is,” he explained.
“Add to that the fact that we are the youngest ‘footballing’ nation in the SEA Games.”
The original Azkals are enjoying unprecedented popularity back home, with one of their upcoming gigs a match with the Los Angeles Galaxy led by the charismatic David Beckham.
That’s why Palami deems it best to keep the Under-23 squad and make his original Azkals program a self-sustaining one as far as talent is concerned.
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