PFF targets SEA Games podium finish

By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star)

Posted at Jan 24 2013 01:43 PM | Updated as of Jan 24 2013 09:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - After the debacle in the previous Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine Football Federation is bent on sending a better-equipped under-23 side in an attempt to come up with a podium finish in this year’s SEAG in Myanmar.

“The goal is already for the gold but to be realistic, considering that other teams have been preparing as well, this time a medal finish is something that the federation has set,” said PFF’s national teams committee head Dan Palami.

Two years ago, the PFF fielded a mix of local and Fil-foreign stalwarts but the Phl U-23 crew fell short of expectations and finished last in Group B, winning only one (2-1 over Laos) while yielding to Vietnam (1-3), Timor Leste (1-2), Myanmar (0-5), and Brunei (1-2).

For the 2013 SEAG, the PFF looks to start preparing the team by March, arranging a series of camps overseas before the Dec. 11-21 Games.

“We’re already preparing a training list for the U-23. In fact some of the players are already with the Azkals,” Palami said.

He was referring to twins Marwin and Marvin Angeles, Jeffrey Christiaens, Matthey Uy, Jason de Jong, Manny Ott and his brother Mike, their newest recruit. Neil Etheridge of Fulham, the first choice keeper of the Azkals, is still eligible to play in the SEAG, although his presence will depend on his club’s schedule.

These U-23 stalwarts are part of Azkals’ training pool for their campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers on Mar. 22-26 at Rizal Memorial.

“These players will be training with the Azkals up to March and from March onwards, they will join the U-23 training team that will be augmented by other local players as well as those based abroad. We’re also setting up two to three training camps for them abroad,” said Palami.

The Phl has never won a medal in the men’s football competitions dating back to SEA Peninsular Games in 1959. The country has a bronze in women’s play in 1985.