THE Philippines’ campaign in the coming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-14 Regional Festival has been dealt a blow after three of its key players were hit with dengue at their training camp in Baguio City.
National youth team coach and former Philippine Azkals star Chieffy Caligdong bared that he was forced to make late changes to his lineup after Paulo Gabriel Go, Miguel De Mesa and Yuki Ferrer were stricken with the illness.
“It was very stressful because from Bacolod to Baguio, bumiyahe kami, tapos nagka-dengue outbreak pa sa Baguio, tatlong key players natin ang tinamaan,” said Caligdong, who looked haggard when approached by SPIN.ph in his hometown of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.
“Napaka-stressful talaga kasi ang ganda na ng preparations natin, tapos I was forced to pluck them out of the list dahil nga may mga sakit,” he added.
Caligdong bared that Ferrer has already beencleared of the dengue virus, while Go and De Mesa are still being observed.
“Gumawa na ako ng paraan, kagabi nag-decide na ako na palitan na yung dalawa, so may bago tayong players na na-insert sa team, we’re hoping makasabay agad sa system,” said the 34-year old retired national booter, who is also at the helm of the TM Football Para Sa Bayan talent search.
Baguio City and the rest of Cordillera Province have been put on red alert by the Department of Health after the summer hideaway recorded seven deaths due to the mosquito-borne tropical disease.
A DOH tally revealed that in Baguio City alone, almost a thousand dengue cases have already been recorded, a six-fold increase from the first semester record of 137 during the same stretch last year.
The health department has also stepped up its campaign against the dreaded disease as the country has already been beset with 57,206 dengue cases, a 36 percent spike from 2015.
Meanwhile, Caligdong bared that taking the places of Go and De Mesa, who also underwent an emergency surgery because of appendicitis earlier this year, are Trevor Lood of Cebu and Cyle Miraflores of Bacolod.
The AFC Under-14 Regional Festival of Football is set in Brunei Darussalam from July 26 to 31, with the host country, Singapore, East Timor and South East Asian powerhouses Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand also competing.
The Philippine youth team is set to fly to Brunei on Sunday afternoon.
Watch the interview with Caligdong: