By Cheska D. Geli
Thursday, October 20, 2011
“IT seems that we are in favorable group,” Philippine Under 23 team manager Dan Palami said the team got a break after getting a favorable group in the Southeast Asian Games this November.
The Philippines is in Group B with 2009 runner-up Vietnam, semifinalist Laos, Timor Leste, Myanmar and Brunei, avoiding powerhouse teams Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, which are in Group A along with Cambodia.
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However, Palami the draw is not a reason to be complacent as the other teams are also
working hard for the first place finish.
“It’s not a walk in the park that’s why we need to train harder,” said Palami.
Though Timor Leste and Laos maybe considered minnows, both countries have started a grassroots program two years ago that is focused on its Under 23 and Under 19 teams.
The Philippine team will be led by veterans Manny Ott and Jason de Jong, who have both played for the senior team in the Suzuki Cup preliminaries. Carlos de Murga, Jeffrey Christiaens and siblings Mark and Martthew Hartmann, who all played for the senior team in the Long Teng Cup, will also be in the squad.
Roland Mueller will man the goal in place of Neil Etheridge, who is busy with his career in Fulham, though the PFF is trying to negotiate with Etheridge’s club to make him available for the SEA Games.
Palami also said that a gold medal is a good motivation for the team, but for now, a more realistic goal is to reach the semifinals, to duplicate the Philippines best finish during the 1991 SEA Games.
“We have young and good players. It’s a more decent lineup and stronger,” Palami said.
The team will leave for a weeklong training camp in Japan on Oct. 21 and they are set to play three games against different universities.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 21, 2011.