By Joaquin Henson
Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Jose Mari Martinez left Manila for Jakarta yesterday afternoon and will represent the country in negotiations with Asean Football Federation (AFF) officials regarding the conduct of the two-match semifinal series of the Suzuki Cup on Dec. 16 and 19.
Before departing, Martinez said he had hoped to bring in Fil-British striker Chad Gould from England as reinforcement for the Philippine squad playing Indonesia but couldn’t get the 6-1 star to agree.
“I spoke with Chad and offered to personally pay to bring him to Jakarta,” said Martinez. “I can convince the AFF to allow him to play. But if he doesn’t get to play, at least, he’ll be with the team and we might be able to activate him in case we play in the finals.”
Martinez said he has tried unsuccessfully to contact officials from the Philippine team about Gould but got through to only one player whom he declined to identify.
“I brought in most of our Fil-foreigners and now, they don’t want to talk to me,” said Martinez who was removed as PFF president for cause during the recent National Congress on a vote of no-confidence from 26 of 33 provincial associations but managed to retain his position on the basis of a technicality upheld by FIFA, the Swiss-based world governing body for football. “I understand their cell phones have been taken away. I suggested for the team to enlist Chad who could be a big help to us. It would be at my own expense. I tried to contact the coach (Simon McEnemy) but no luck. Since they haven’t called Chad, I can understand why he’s not keen to go to Jakarta. He would be embarrassed if he shows up as a spectator.”
Martinez said he was told that Mariano Araneta, the PFF president-in-waiting, and former PFF president Johnny Romualdez will travel to Jakarta to accompany the national team.
“I know Johnny is an AFF vice president but I’m the only one authorized by FIFA to represent our country in official negotiations regarding the Suzuki Cup,” he said. “I will sit in the box during the matches as the Philippine representative, nobody else.”
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