Palami upbeat despite Azkals drop in FIFA rankings
by JAELLE NEVIN REYES
Philippine Azkals manager Dan Palami remains optimistic despite the national football team’s drop in FIFA world rankings.
The Azkals, No.115 in May, dropped to No.120 in June, then fell 15 notches to No.135 in the latest list released on July 14.
According to Palami, Azklas’ drop in FIFA rankings is the result of lack of friendlies that his squad can participate in. He explained that it does not mean that the quality of the Azkals’ game has deteriorated.
“That’s what happens if you don’t have friendly matches but it doesn’t mean that we have dropped in our performance,” he said.
Palami added that they are planning to play more games in the upcoming international friendly windows and hinted that they will be taking on higher ranked squads.
“We’ll try to rectify that by having a couple of friendlies just before Suzuki Cup. It would be a good preparation and good for our rankings as well,” Palami said.
Only two matches, both against Kyrgyzstan later this year, have been confirmed as part of the team’s preparations for the Suzuki Cup to be held in the country.
Palami said that head coach Thomas Dooley wants the Azkals to face tougher opponents in their next games to gauge the team’s progress.
“The coach prefers that we play teams that are above us in rankings. We get better exposure if we play against those teams and at the same time, if we win, we get better points for the rankings,” Palami stressed.
The Azkals are slated to play against Australian Perth Glory FC at the newly renovated Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur on July 26.
However, Dooley will not be at the helm but assistant coach and Philippine Football Federation Technical Director Aris Caslib, “He [Dooley] won’t be here against Perth. Coach Caslib will be coaching the team in the game in Ilocos,” said Palami.
Palami added that they would field new players in the match against Australia as the Azkals coaching staff is still awaiting response from different clubs if they would load their players to the national team.