‘That could have been us,’ says Palami after Azkals tormentor Palestine named Asia's top team
Team manager Dan Palami hopes the Azkals would finally challenge the continent's best. Jerome Ascano

FOR Philippine national men’s fooball team manager Dan Palami, one conceded goal has now cost the Azkals three major achievements.

Palami believes there was a great chance the National Team of the Year title of the Asian Football Confederation Annual Awards would have been handed to the Philippines if the Azkals held strong in the Challenge Cup title match.

Palestine, who beat the Azkals in the 1-0, in the Challenge Cup finale, was named Team of the Year on Sunday night at the Makati Shangri-la.

That one goal denied the Azkals the title and a ticket to the AFC Asian Cup, and now Palami notes it may have cost them the top citation from the continental federation.

“That could have been us,” Palami said after the glitzy awards night graced by some of the biggest football personalities, led by Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

“When it was announced that it was Palestine, I said, ‘We missed it by a goal,'” he added.

[See Azkals fall short of goal after sorry loss to Palestine in AFC Challenge Cup final]

After capturing the Challenge Cup, Palestine made the biggest jump in the world rankings, moving an amazing 71 places up to 94th last June.

“We have to congratulate Palestine for winning that award,” Palami said. “We just have to strive harder in the coming years and make sure we finally get into the awards table of AFC.”

“But nevertheless, we have to focus on what’s on the plate right now and it’s the Suzuki Cup,” the Azkals boss was quick to add. “We have to do our work.”

[See Azkals prepare for AFF semifinal showdown with Thailand]

Nassir Al Shamrani of Saudi Arabia and Australia’s Katrina Lee Gorry bannered the awardees on Sunday, bagging the Player of the Year and Women’s Player of the Year honors, respectively.

Club Team of the Year award went to the Western Sydney Wanderers of Australia for winning this year’s AFC Champions League, while their mentor, Tony Popovic, was adjudged Coach of the Year (men’s). Asako Takemoto of the Japan Under-17 team was Popovic’s women’s counterpart.

The Philippine Football Federation gained a consolation as it emerged as one of the three winners of the AFC President’s Recognition Award for Grassroots Football. 

[See Azkals book ticket to Suzuki Cup semis with stunning shutout of Indonesia]

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos