THE Philippine women’s football team’s recent inclusion in the country’s Southeast Asian Games delegation is a welcome development to all Pinoy football advocates.
Understandably, it can be more fulfilling if the men’s counterparts are allowed to join.
That’s why Malditas coach Ernie Nierras is not losing hope on the inclusion of the 23-Under Azkals in the downsized contingent bound for the biennial meet.
“Syempre gusto rin naming makapasok ang Under-23 because they are very strong,” Nierras said in a chat with Spin.ph on Tuesday after the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
While the 23-Under Azkals are still waiting for the go-signal from the task force, Nierras can help the squad in his own way.
Reigning United Football League champion Stallion, which Nierras also handles, is among the squads that the 23-Under Azkals will face in the inaugural UFL preseason tournament that unfolds on Saturday at the Emperador Stadium in McKinley Hill.
“Hopefully makatulong kami sa development nila,” Nierras said.
The Under-23 Azkals were invited by the UFL as a guest team in the month-long competition, where they are bracketed in Group C with Kaya, Stallion, and Division 2 sides Forza and Philippine Navy.
Global FC leads the cast in Group A, which also has Green Archers United and Division 2 squads Union Internacionale Manila, Laos, and Manila All-Japan.
Group B will be composed of Loyola Meralco, Nomads, Army, and Division 2 teams Cimarron and Dolphins United.
The squads face their group-mates in a single-round format with the top two sides advancing to the next round where they will again be separated into three groups in another round-robin competition. The top two squads then move on to the semifinals, with the winners of the knockout matches facing each other in the finals.