By Abac Cordero
MANILA, Philippines – There may be changes coming up in the composition of the Philippine football team that’s coming off a Cinderella run in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.
“There will be changes but the core of the team will remain,” said team manager Dan Palami following the Azkals’ aborted run to reach the finals of the tournament.
Palami said even coach British Simon McMenemy will be evaluated, as well as the players, including the seven Fil-foreigners and the bunch of locals.
“I think the core of the team will be there. We just need to add a few options, more especially in offense. It should allow Phil (Younghusband) and rest of the guys to attack more,” he said.
The Azkals made the country proud, and their opposition take a more serious look at them following an impressive showing that included draws against Singapore and Myanmar and a big 2-0 win over Vietnam.
Against the mighty Indonesians, the Azkals dropped identical 1-0 defeats when there were chances of winning or at least salvaging a draw.
“We still need to improve. It’s not just the coach but all of the players will be evaluated. And from there we will know what steps to take,” said Palami.
But it doesn’t mean that he’s disappointed with the outcome. Certainly not.
“It was a good run for the Philippines. We weren’t expected to reach this level. And now that we know what we can achieve, the next tournament will be more exciting for us. A lot of players will be coming in as well. We can make some changes to make sure we have more options
“We can look forward to a better team in the coming years,” he said, adding that this early, the Azkals are getting invitations to play in other countries, including one in Vietnam.
A couple of players, including star goalie Neil Etheridge, team captain Aly Borromeo and youthful Jason De Jong, are being offered playing contracts in Indonesia.
Franco Lorenzo, one of the team officials, said the offers actually came on the eve of the match, but they kept the players within safe distance because they weren’t really sure what it was all about.
“It was on the eve of the biggest match of our lives and we don’t know what kind of offers were to be made,” said the official.
McMenemy is also facing offers to coach other teams, like Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia, but said he’d rather stay with the Azkals.
Whatever, Palami said he’s looking forward to a busy year for the Azkals.
“Now everybody knows we can play decent football,” he said.
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