Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Azkals to compete in AFC Challenge Cup in 2011

Posted by chardyboy on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 0 comments


A hectic year 2011 awaits the Philippine football team, which is seeing action in several international tournaments next year.

Fresh from their historic achievement in the AFF Suzuki Cup, the Filipino booters, together with newly-recognized Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, graced the PSA Forum on Tuesday at Shakey’s U.N. Avenue, and reflected on their recent campaign.

The Philippines usually finishes at the tail end of regional competitions, but in the just-concluded Suzuki Cup, the Azkals reached the semifinals. They lost the 2 semis games to Indonesia, both 0-1.

“It was a culmination of a very nice run for us,” said team manager Dan Palami. “We never expected us to be there in the semifinals, and the credit has to be given to the players for playing their hearts out. Our campaign was a reflection of the Filipino spirit of never backing down."

Palami, who has bankrolled the squad since late last year, said the team is now looking forward to several international tournaments next year, starting with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup qualifying tournament.

Araneta also announced at the same forum, supported by Outlast Battery, PAGCOR and Shakey’s, that he finally got the recognition of the FIFA early Tuesday morning, certifying his election as president during the PFF Congress last month.

Araneta assured transparency as he serves out the remainder of the term of Jose Mari Martinez, who was ousted during the same PFF Congress. He also vowed to continue supporting the team.

“He [Martinez] has the right to appeal, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s already a closed matter,” said Araneta. “FIFA has accepted our legality and it has accepted our congress.”

“I am glad sponsors are coming in,” he added. “We can assure you of transparency with our governance and that the money will be spent where it’s supposed to be spent.” 

Araneta also promised to revive youth competitions as well as the national open tournament to discover new talents.

The Philippine booters salvaged a dramatic draw with Singapore, 1-1, on an injury-time equalizer by Chris Greatwich. the Philippines also scored in the 2-0 victory over Vietnam, which was considered as the upset of the tournament.

The results catapulted the Azkals to stardom. Skipper Aly Borromeo said they never imagined this would happen to them in a country where basketball and boxing are the popular sports.

We don’t want to make all of this for nothing. The country has a lot of potential to be very good in football,” said Borromeo.

The Azkals will face Mongolia in a home-and-away AFC Challenge Cup qualifying tie in February, with the home game expected to be played at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod.

If they beat Mongolia, the RP booters will move on to the qualifying event in a group which includes Myanmar, Palestine and Bangladesh.

Araneta said they have already expressed their intention of having the two games against Mongolia in the Philippines to avoid playing in near-freezing conditions.

Palami said they will hold open tryouts to get the best available talent for the next tournaments.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a local or a Fil-foreigner,” said Palami. “There will be an equal chance for everyone to compete for slots in the squad.”


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