NOBODY expected the Philippine national men’s football team to reach the semifinals in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, but somehow the Azkals did, and proved all the doubters that the future of Philippine football is bright.
Cebu Football Association president Richard Montayre lauded the Azkals for their amazing run that was unforeseen by many, despite the fact that the squad is out of title contention after being beaten by Indonesia.
“Actually, their performance was unexpected. Basically, it was a good performance, but they could have done more with the support of everybody; one the support of PFF (Philippine Football Federation)and two, the support of the public,” Montayre told Sun.Star Cebu in an interview yesterday.
The Philippines lost to Indonesia, 1-0, in both matches of the semifinal round.
Plenty of room
In spite of the Philippines being eliminated in the semifinal round, Montayre believes that the Azkals could improve with more support from the government and the PFF aside from just team manager Dan Palami, who is financing the team.
“The team still has a lot of room for improvement,” said Montayre. “A lot of people now know that the Philippines is capable of winning against football giants.”
Montayre believes that for the Philippine football to flourish in international competitions, the country should focus on building up the youth in grassroots programs and not only depend on picking up Filipino players outside the country.
“We should start with what we have in the youth and look for talents here,” said Montayre.
He thinks that the PFF should focus on improving the young homegrown talents and also hold a national tournament for men and youth divisions, which hasn’t been done for years since Jose Mari Martinez came into power as PFF president.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 21, 2010.