THERE will be no special treatment given to the Philippine men’s football team pool members who are eligible for this year’s Southeast Asian Games.
The Philippine Football Federation expressed on Monday it will give a fair chance to the young booters who will be named to the national pool from the PFF-Suzuki 23-and-under National Cup as its regional qualifying tournament kicks off next month.
Marvin and Marwin Angeles, Joshua Beloya, Jeffrey Christiaens, Jason de Jong, Neil Etheridge, Manny and Mike Ott, OJ Porteria, and Matthew Uy are the Azkals pool members who are all eligible for the biennial meet in December.
But PFF president Mariano ‘Nonong’ Araneta said none of them are seeded to the SEA Games roster.
“If there are players that will show better performances than those coming from the Azkals then definitely they will be given the slots to the Southeast Asian Games squad,” Araneta said in the press launch for the third edition of the National Cup.
“No player is assured of a spot in the Under-23 team so they have to fight it out,” the former two-sport star added.
PFF competitions committee chairman Cyril Dofitas said last week the objective of the National Cup is to provide a pool of players for the SEA Games, but the decision on the team's final makeup will be up to the national teams committee headed by Azkals manager Dan Palami.
The Luzon qualifiers are first up, set from April 8 to 13 at the University of the Philippines-Los Baños field in Laguna and composed of teams representing Masbate, Laguna, and Baguio-Benguet.
The Visayas qualifying round is next, with defending champion Negros Occidental competing against Iloilo and Cebu from April 15 to 20.
Finally, the Mindanao qualifiers, set from April 22 to 27, features clubs from North Cotabato, Iligan-Lanao del Norte, Davao City, and Zamboanga Dipolog.
The top two teams from the double-round competition in each group will advance to the final qualifying round on May 20 to 25 in Cebu, which also hosts the semifinals and the finals later in the same month.