Karl Decena, InterAKTV
After a fight-marred encounter between the Philippine national men’s football team against Laos Monday night, Azkals team manager Dan Palami apologized for the behavior of some players during the match.
At the 66th minute of the Azkals’ 2-1 loss, players from both squads got involved in a scuffle that delayed the game for almost five minutes. Members of both squads got into each others’ faces and kept talking trash, heightening the tension.
The Azkals seemed to get the worst of the exchanges. One player from Laos was caught on camera punching Azkal sub Misagh Bahadoran, who curiously received a red card after the incident. Azkals goalkeeper Neil Etheridge was also collared by three Laos players during the heated affair.
Still, Palami expressed regret.
“It was a heated, physical, and highly competitive game that we wanted to win badly, but these do not excuse some of our players for losing their temper and composure, despite any provocation,” Palami wrote on his Twitter account. “We truly regret and apologize for this incident.
“We believe that football remains a valuable tool to promote peace and bridge differences, especially when the games are played in the true spirit of fairness and professionalism.”
Prior to their Southeast Asian trip, the Azkals were appointed ‘ambassadors for peace’ by the Philippine government in recognition of football’s role to bring people together.
The Laos friendly was the last leg of the Azkals’ three-nation tour, which is part of their preparations for the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup in November. They are looking to surpass their semifinal finish in the same tournament two years ago.