The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) announced last Wednesday, 25 March 2020, the postponement of several AFF competitions scheduled for the next four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The postponement of the AFF competitions follows the decisions made by FIFA and AFC to postpone their competitions such as the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers to be scheduled for March and June 2020 and AFC club competitions scheduled for March and April 2020 respectively.
The AFF U18 Women’s Championship (June 2020), AFF U16 Boys’ Championship (July 2020), and AFF U19 Boys Championship (August 2020) are postponed to later dates as will be announced. The Philippines were set to compete in these tournaments.
The AFF Women’s Championship Qualifiers which were to be hosted by the Philippines in May-June 2020 is also postponed to a later date as will be announced.
The inaugural ASEAN Club Championship, where PFF has nominated Ceres-Negros FC to compete in the tournament, has been rescheduled for 2021.
Other AFF competitions scheduled for the latter part of the year including the AFF U15 Girls’ Championship (September 2020) and the AFF Suzuki Cup (November 2020) are set to push through.
PFF exhorts the general public, football stakeholders and fans, to stay safe and comply with the government pronouncements on the COVID-19 pandemic as well as practice the prescribed health and safety precautions to help contain the spread of the virus.
Harboring dreams of playing overseas, former UAAP most valuable player Jarvey Gayoso made a tough decision to forgo his final year of eligibility at Ateneo for a chance to accelerate his improvement with the Azkals Development Team (ADT), which will be fielded by the Philippine Football Federation as a guest team in the Philippines Football League.
Having watched some of his contemporaries like Amani Aguinaldo and Marco Casambre already get a taste of what it’s like to play in countries where football has a much higher profile, Gayoso now wants to follow that path.
Aguinaldo, 24, is playing for Trat FC in Thai League 1 after a strong season in Malaysia last year, but he’s already chalked up 38 appearances for the Azkals. The defender, however, focused on his pro career as early as 2014 in lieu of playing in the UAAP and he’s reaping the benefits of starting out early.
Now 23 with a year left to finish his management degree at Ateneo, Jarvey, son of former PBA player Jayvee Gayoso, also sees that path, but feels no regrets staying longer in the college game.
“This is the best time for me to take the leap,” Gayoso said. “I don’t think I would’ve been as prepared. My mind-set would have been in a different place. So right now, the only thing in my mind at the moment is to have that opportunity to play overseas. I just want to grow as a player.”
The ADT will provide just that for Gayoso, whose checkered career in the UAAP includes a couple of championships.The program could be a game changer as collegiate stars may now be forced to rethink their options with the ADT providing a pathway to opportunities for a career outside the country.
“I think this is the best idea we’ve had since I’ve been here, because there aren’t any really professional club academies here,” Azkals coach Scott Cooper said. “There are not that many academies and so we needed to find a way that we could identify players and try to develop them.”
Dan Palami, the Azkals manager, said the ADT’s goal is to develop players and expose them to a more professional environment.
Gayoso said his time with the Azkals Under-22 side in the Southeast Asian Games gave him plenty of realizations as a player. That team also had several collegiate stars in Jerome Marzan of San Beda and Mar Diano of UE, who have also moved on to the ADT.
Playing as a leftback, Gayoso found himself taking on players his age, but with plenty of experience at the pro level. Admittedly, he struggled to cope with the tempo of the games. INQ
It may take some time before the Philippine men’s football team sees action again with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic suspending competitions, including a World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Qualifying match this month, but Azkal coach Scott Cooper has kept himself busy, mapping out short and long-term plans for the program that players feel have made tremendous progress in the past year.
The Azkals are currently in third spot in their World Cup Qualifying group with seven points, behind unbeaten Syria and China, but they still have two more home matches late this year against Guam and Maldives and an away clash against the Chinese, whom they held to a goalless draw in Bacolod last year.
The performances have been encouraging as far as the Azkals are concerned as Cooper has injected a new philosophy and culture within the squad. Even with the 0-1 defeat to Syria in their last match last year, the Azkals showed they can compete against some of the best teams in the continent.
“The team is playing more offensive than ever and it looks like they can play against any other team anywhere,” Cooper told the Inquirer. “Our future is bright. We are very optimistic. And we’re putting plans in place to continue our development.”
“Suddenly, there is now a belief in the players and staff that performing well against much higher ranked countries isn’t rare,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami. “We’re more confident that we can be one of the best teams in Asia. There is certainly a paradigm shift in terms of the culture that we have in the team.”
Azkals captain Stephan Schrock feels an injection of a winning “DNA” in the team.
“The team has undergone a complete renovation,” said Schrock. “We not only have a new system that matches the players we have – but also the opponent we play can be matched in a simple adjustment. Every player gets a fair chance to showcase what he can bring to the team. But the most important thing in my eyes is the winner DNA. We got happy with ‘we almost made it and we got so close’ in the past.”
Cooper stressed the importance of sustaining the progress even with the current situation.
Working alongside team manager Dan Palami, the Irish coach set up the Azkals Development Team that will be part as guest team of the Philippines Football League, which has prompted collegiate star Jarvey Gayoso to forego his final year in the UAAP to join the team.
“We’ve been able to identify younger players with specific talents who have a bright future ahead,” said Cooper, a former Leicester City youth coach, who actually showed a keen eye for potential stars when he had 12 of his former club players called up for national team in Thailand.
Among the new players Cooper has discovered for a possible Azkals stint is 18-year-old homegrown star Lance Ocampo, who stood out in a recent friendly against Kaya Iloilo and against the Philippine Army.
“We’re revitalizing the current team, searching for new potential impact players while the ADT program is up and running,” said Cooper. “We just need results to back it up.”
The Azkals are also seeing action in the AFF Suzuki Cup late this year and Cooper has maintained a positive approach during the pandemic by sending home nutritional and workout out plans for players as well as sending tactical videos.
Azkals veteran Neil Etheridge believes the team is moving in the right direction.
“It’s been a pleasure being a part of the new look team as it’s going in the right direction and that’s exactly what I wanted,” the goalkeeper said. “We do look better and stronger than I have seen us and like I said there’s a lot more I feel we can add to become even better and a stronger force in Asia.”
In view of the continuing spread of COVID-19, which prompted the Government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to issue Resolution No. 11 yesterday, 12 March 2020, which raised the Alert Level to Code Red Sub-Level 2 and, among others, placed the entire National Capital Region under community quarantine for 30 days and prohibited mass gatherings, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) and Philippines Football League (PFL) have decided to postpone the Philippines Football League kick-off originally scheduled on 21 March 2020 to 18 April 2020 tentatively.
Utmost priority must be accorded to the safety, health, and welfare of the players, coaching staff, match officials, sponsors, and others who are involved in the organization of the matches.
PFF and PFL encourage all football stakeholders and the general public to be mindful always of the risks posed by COVID-19, observe the recommendations on how to avoid the virus, be safe and healthy during these times, and to help the nation combat the spread of COVID-19.
In view of the current situation on the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Resolution No. 10 of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) on the recommendations for the management of the virus, and Proclamation No. 922 declaring a “state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines,” the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) advises its Member Associations to:
Help contain the spread of the virus in their respective communities.
Prioritize the safety and well-being of all football stakeholders, most especially grassroots and youth players, by following guidelines issued by health authorities such as:
Avoiding close contact with people from high risk areas or displaying flu-like symptoms or suffering from acute respiratory diseases;
Maintaining absolute hygiene: washing hands frequently and avoid touching parts of your face;
Covering mouth and coughing away from other persons. Throw away any used tissues in proper trash bins;
Avoiding unprotected contact with animals;
Avoiding visits to crowded places (e.g. markets, shopping malls, etc.). Stay indoors as much as possible;
Avoid eating uncooked food;
People showing signs of acute respiratory diseases should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
For more information, the public may visit World Health Organization (WHO) website via the following link:
Evaluate the holding of football events involving large number of attendees. PFF Member Associations are recommended to postpone, for the meantime, scheduled football activities that will involve a large number of players or projected crowds, especially those involving young players. In case of postponement is no longer feasible, PFF Member Associations or event organizer should follow precautionary measures, such as:
Hold the event in a “closed stadium” (without spectators) basis;
Administer thermal scanning of all participants; and
Make available sufficient amount of alcohol and hand sanitizers for participants and staff.
PFF exhorts everyone to be always mindful of the risks, and to stay healthy and safe during these times.
Ceres-Negros cruised to a 4-0 victory against Bali United in the AFC Cup last Match 11 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. Oj Porteria, Bienvenido Maranon, and Robert Lopez Mendy all found the back of the net for the busmen.
The match was played behind closed doors but the action was tight in the early going. Both teams tried to figure each other out with Ceres-Negros controlling possession while Bali was defending deep and looking for the counter.
It was in only in the 35th minute when the deadlock was broken after Stephan Schrock ran into space and took a shot which was parried wide but Porteria smashed home to the top corner to make it 1-0.
The busmen turned up the action in the second half and were rewarded in the 52nd when Schrock was brought down in the box. Maranon stepped up for the penalty and scored to make it 2-0. The Negros squad had plenty of opportunities to get more goals but chances from Schrock and Maranon were saved by the keeper.
The Ceres-Negros captain again was pivotal in the 69th minute when he picked Maranon off a corner which the Spaniard nodded in towards the second post and in.
Lopez Mendy had a chance to make it four but his chance in front of goal was off target. He wont be denied in the 73rd when he broke away and slotted one past Nadeo to make it 4-0.
Things got testy near the end as the visitors vented their frustrations which resulted to dirty plays which was protested but the match ended with Ceres-Negros as the runaway winners.
“Its not easy to play especially when the team is defending very deep,” said Ceres-Negros Coach Risto Vidakovic. “We started in the first half to find space, to create opportunities, but after the first goal I think they opened a little bit so we had more space to play. We created more opportunities and scored more goals.”
The win put the Philippine champions three points clear with seven points followed by Than Quang Ninh who improved to four points after an away win versus Svay Rieng. Ceres-Negros will travel next to Bali on April 14 for the away leg in Indonesia.
Philippines Football League side Kaya FC-Iloilo remained undefeated in Group H following a 1-1 draw with Indonesian side PSM Makassar in Tuesday’s AFC Cup fixture at the Gelora Bung Karno Madya Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The match, which was played behind closed doors as a safety precaution brought on by the COVID-19 virus, saw Kaya gain a man advantage inside the first ten minutes after PSM’s Dedy Gusmawan was sent-off after two quick-fire bookings.
However, the hosts, made the most out of the disadvantage with the first goal of the match. Osas Saha made his way through the Kaya defense and converted from close range in the 22nd minute.
Kaya capitalized on each opportunity to draw level but were unable to convert their chances until the 50th minute. Substitute Arnel Amita picked out Eric Giganto, who headed in the equalizer.
The forward almost completed the comeback 11 minutes later but was unable to hit the target. Captain Jovin Bedic and Takumi Uesato also came close for Kaya but fluffed their chances.
Kaya remained on top of Group H with one win and two draws. They will face the same opposition on 15 April 2020 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
The AFC Cup match between Ceres-Negros and Bali United will be played behind closed doors on Wednesday, March 11, as advised by Philippine sports officials.
The decision was adopted after careful consultation with the Philippine Football Federation and the Philippine Sports Commission. The match will continue without spectators inside the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The move conforms with measures being adopted by the national and local governments to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Fans can still watch the closed-door match live on One Sports PH (TV/Facebook live/YouTube channel) and Fox Sports 1 channel at 730PM.