MANILA, Philippines - Left to carry the fight in the wake of the Under-23 Azkals’ exclusion from the delegation to the Southeast Asian Games, the Phl Malditas will use this opportunity to prove their worth while pitching for their “snubbed” comrades.
“The success of the Malditas in the SEAG will prove to the POC/PSC (Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission) that our football teams belong in the SEAG! If the Malditas can do it, then so can the U23 Azkals!” Malditas’ coach Ernie Nierras said.
The POC-PSC SEA Games task force had given the Malditas the greenlight to play in the Myanmar meet on the strength of their solid performances in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifiers and the Asean Football Federation Women’s Championship.
This will be their first SEAG stint in a long while, having been stricken off in the 2009 and 2011 editions. In contrast, the U23 Azkals were left out after taking part two years ago, a decision that drew heavy criticism from the football community.
“I see this as an opportunity for the future mothers of men’s and women’s national team players. It is our chance to carry the load for the mean time. To share in the burden of making football a sport for all Filipinos and Filipinas. We need to focus on what we can do, and not dwell on what is not.
“We need to keep moving forward. The Malditas were not included in the 2009 and 2011 SEAG, but we did not give up and lose hope. Now we are part of the contingent for the 2013 SEAG, I want us to focus on that,” said Nierras.
Nierras has ordered the candidates to be in Manila by Nov. 27 to start their final preparations for the competitions slated Dec. 9-20 in at Zambu Thiri Football Stadium in Mandalay, Myanmar.
The football community was thankful for the Malditas’ inclusion but rued the snub on the Azkals.
“Sayang (too bad)... (We have) A good coach and a good team. Thought it would be our chance to prove to everyone how far our team could go,” lamented forward Jinggoy Valmayor.
The task force had thumbed down the U23 Azkals’ bid for “lack of international friendlies” to base their qualifications on.
“If that’s their reason, parang we don’t see ourselves participating in the SEA Games na, eh kasi how can we prove we can get the gold medal?” said Philippine Football Federation president Nonong Araneta.
“And the way I see it, if sila pa rin ang sports officials na ganyan ang kanilang thinking, we will never be in the SEA Games sa Under-23,” Araneta added.
The Philippines will be the only absentee in the SEAG, the region’s premier tourney for the U23.