THE Philippine Football Federation (PFF) expressed mixed emotions upon learning one of its two national teams has been excluded in the delegation to the coming Southeast Asian Games.
Although ecstatic with the inclusion of the women’s team in the Philippine contingent bound for the Myanmar Games, the dominant feeling is negative as the men’s team failed to make the cut.
“We’re disappointed for the Under-23 (Azkals), but at the same time we’re thankful for the Malditas,” PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta told Spin.ph over the phone on Saturday.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) on Friday decided the fate of the football teams, citing the Under-23 Azkals’ lack of track record for their exclusion in one of the smallest contingents the country will be sending to the regional biennial meet.
“Sabi nila wala kaming track record, pero paano naman magagawa yun kung wala kaming tournament sa Under-23 except SEA Games,” Araneta argued.
The U-23 booters’ 0-1 loss to Singapore in a friendly a few months ago was the lone basis the POC considered, although the team had numerous other stints such as playing the United Football League All-Stars to a 1-1 draw in a charity match, and participating in the UFL Preseason to name a few.
The PFF also planned training camps for the U-23 side in Bahrain and Japan next month, but the preparations are expected not to push through anymore following the team’s exclusion to the SEA Games.
If the criteria for inclusion in the succeeding editions of the biennial meet will remain the same as implemented by POC president Peping Cojuangco and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Richie Garcia, Araneta is pessimistic the U-23 Azkals will ever get a chance to participate.
“If that’s their reason, parang we don’t see ourselves participating in the SEA Games na, eh kasi how can we prove na we can get the gold medal?”
“And the way I see it, if sila pa rin ang sports officials na ganyan ang kanilang thinking, we will never be in the SEA Games sa Under-23.”
“Gold ang kanilang criteria. It’s not really to prepare a competitive team,” Araneta said. “Their standards are just so high.”