30 July 2011

Azkals set sights on SEAG, AFC

MANILA, Philippines - Its Fifa World Cup dream dashed for now, the Philippines shifts its aspirations to the next big competitions in the region – the Southeast Asian Games in November for the Under-23 team and the AFC Challenge Cup next year for the Azkals seniors side.

Taking off from the Azkals’ breakthrough second-round stint in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) looks to win a first-ever medal in the SEAG in Indonesia, setting training camps abroad to hone up the squad.

“Coach Michael Weiss has already submitted a program so we’ll just be going to discuss the budget. There will be two camps abroad for the U-23. One in the Middle East. And if the situation in Japan has already normalized, then we want to go to Japan,” PFF president Nonong Araneta said.

Some of the younger Azkals like Jason de Jong, Simon Greatwich and Manuel Ott will reinforce the U-23 side, boosting Phl’s drive to break into the medal picture in men’s football for the very first time in the biennial meet.

“We will definitely vie, work for that medal. We have a good chance, we’ve a good team and I think with the camp that we’re planning, with the training we’re preparing, the team will go a long way,” said Araneta.

Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge of Fulham is eligible at age 21, but he’s non-committal for the SEAG campaign as of now.

“I’m not sure (if I’ll be available). I still have to check my schedule (in England),” said the Fil-Britisth Azkals star.

Weiss said he will bring some of the youngsters with the Azkals senior team when they compete in the Long Teng Cup in Kaohsiung, Taiwan Sept. 28-Oct. 6 “to test their readiness for the SEA Games.” After this, an intensive four-week training is up, highlighted by camps in Dubai and Bahrain.

The Long Teng will also start off the Azkals’ buildup for the AFC Challenge Cup from March 3-8, 2012. The winner qualifies for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup finals, Asia’s premiere football meet where reigning champ Japan and powerhouses Australia and South Korea are already seeded.

“The Azkals’ main forcus will be the AFC Challenge Cup eight months from now. We’ll be trying to go directly to the Asian Cup so for this one, we have to get all players ready,” said Weiss.

The Azkals will take a monthlong break after their 1-5 loss to fancied Kuwait in the World Cup prelims, including a 1-2 heartbreaker at the Rizal pitch.

“This is an achievement even if we lost twice to Kuwait,” Weiss said. “We’re in a growing process and the team can only learn from these experiences.”



  1. The SouthEast Asian games are being held in Indonesia and no team from the Arabian Gulf is competing. So could someone tell me why the money donated from abroad for grassroots development can't be spent on training at home in places like Davao or Bacolod or Iloilo?
    Remember we're not talking about 11 guys plus coach and manager. The normal entourage must mean about 30 airfare/hotel/food etc bills.
    If the host country is paying for these training trips then Salamat. If not, real football fans must realise real Filipino football is going nowhere.

  2. first, in the gulf area are top notch facilities and most important: the team will be able to meet and face stronger opponents......so if you want to improve you have to play vs. stronger teams and not to Far Eastern University or something like that....
    the grassroot program is to build up the youngsters who (maybe once) will be ready enough to make it to the U-23 or NT

  3. First: answer the question who's paying for these
    $$$$$$$ trips?
    Second: Would is not be wise to prove you're the best at the lowest level before before blowing
    $$$$$$$'s more kidding yourself it helps to beat
    NT's like Timor Este and Mongolia?

  4. "Second: Would is not be wise to prove you're the best at the lowest level before before blowing
    $$$$$$$'s more kidding yourself it helps to beat
    NT's like Timor Este and Mongolia?"

    What else do you expect?!? It's the mentality of a big chunk of Filipinos. They witness or experience some success even if that success is considered an over achievement, they want to jump straight into the big time asap.

    In footballing terms, a portion of fans all of a sudden have none sense expectations and criticisms even though we're still quite unproven.

  5. Have to agree with the first guy. If this is the under 23 team, why cant they play against a UFL selection? even the senior Azkals struggled and lost to them. But then again, a camp in another country does help, maybe they can have a local camp and an international one?

    As for fan expectations, its good you have azkalnuts around, but more grounded fans know that we're a work in progress. either way, its good for the sport in the country.

    For now, we're still probably just good enough to play with our ASEAN neighbors, bt thats still better compared to our level of play 3 years ago. Until we can beat the likes of thailand, malaysia and indonesia on a routine basis, then we cant look to join the ranks of East asian and Gulf nation teams just yet.

  6. All the WNT ever asked for was a washing machine for their practice gear and they were given a bowl and detergent instead. The money being spent on the MNT frills could sure go a long way to help the WNT. And yes they can beat Indonesia and Malaysia on a routine basis. They will need more resources to beat Thailand.

  7. I'll wait until we've beaten Indonesia and Malaysia before i can say we can beat them on a routine basis. We lost to Indonesia twice in Suzuki and Malaysia won the whole thing.

    I do feel for the WNT. They've been doing much better for years now.

    But the MNT will always get more focus. That's a given and that's just how it will always (sadly) be.

    How many people watched the World Cup? How many people even noticed that Japan beat the US for the womens' WC? Anyone watch the WNBA? Just how it is.