MANILA, Philippines – Looking to put behind the poor showing of the Under-23
team in the Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Football Federation is sending
a squad to contest the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
starting Feb. 21, 2012.
Azkals manager Dan Palami has been tasked to
assemble the squad for the HBT which is primarily an Under-21 competition with
five over-aged players to reinforce the teams.
Palami has stressed the importance of preparing
early for the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar and sees the participation in the HBT as
an important component of the buildup.
The move to allow the over-aged players in the
team stemmed from the Brunei’s decision to rely on the team that saw action in
the SEA Games—an Under-23 event—where the Sultanate nipped the Philippines, 2-1,
for its only win.
The Under-23 Azkals wound up with one victory
against four losses in the SEA Games, dooming their chances of making the
semifinals for the first time in 20 years.
PFF general secretary Chito Manuel Sunday said
the PFF has confirmed its participation in the HBT that hopes to lure teams in
Dato Paduka Abdul Rahman, president of the
National Football Association of Brunei, said they are eyeing at least 10 teams
to compete in the tournament.
Manuel said Brunei, which was only reinstated by
International Football Federation in May after a two-year ban because of
government intervention, has agreed to shoulder the airfare and accommodations
of teams competing in the tournament.
Team official Josef Malinay said several members
of the Under-23 side that saw action in the SEA Games are still eligible for the
HBT like goal scorers Joshua Beloya, Manny Ott and OJ Porteria.
Also included in the pool that will start
training on Jan. 4 are Marwin Angeles, Paolo Pascual and Filipino-Belgian winger