P20 million for Azkals' Maldives mission was money well spent, says manager Dan Palami
By Karlo Sacamos
AS if the disappointing runner-up finish in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup was not enough, Philippine men’s football team manager Dan Palami had to pay a $600 fine for getting sent off in the final against Palestine last week.
That capped off a costly campaign for the Azkals and the Philippine Football Federation as Palami confirmed reports the total bill before, during, and after the stint hovers around the P20-million mark.
“It’s close,” Palami admitted to Spin.ph, without detailing the exact amount, which covered air fare, accommodation, and miscellaneous expenses, among others, in Maldives, including the week-long training camp in Bahrain, and the friendlies abroad since March.
“Every time we go out, there are always expenses related to that,” said Palami, who has bankrolled the national team since late 2009.
“But nevertheless, even if we didn’t win the championship, that’s an expense that has benefited the team. It has made the team stronger.”
“It was money well spent,” added the 43-year-old businessman and sports advocate.
If there’s one expense Palami surely hopes to avoid next time, it’s the fine that was slapped on him after he drew the attention of the referee following a questionable call in the 0-1 loss to the Palestinians.
“Our assistant coaches at the bench were actually already shouting at the referee and had been warned a lot of times. And then finally, just in exasperation, I decided just to clap and just say: ‘Hey, good job, referee,’” Palami recalled.
“It was an experience,” he said with a smile. “There were a lot of first times in Maldives. Sometimes these things happen and I’m sorry for that.”
The PFF, though, is expected to receive revenue shares from broadcast partner ABS-CBN, which is compensating the federation P1.3 million for each televised match, totalling P6.5 million for the five games the team played.
Still, the Azkals fell short of their ultimate objective of claiming the last AFC Asian Cup slot.
“The only reason why we felt disappointed with the first runner-up finish was because we always tried to set the bar high and nothing but the championship was the goal for us,” Palami said. “But looking back at the results, it was a performance that has been unequalled yet in Philippine football history.”