Football: Azkals boss on Asian Cup debut — ‘We want to create an impact’

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2018 12:07 AM | Updated as of Mar 29 2018 12:28 AM

Members of the Philippine Azkals celebrate after qualifying for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The team manager of the men's national football team on Wednesday said he plans to retain its core for the 2019 Asian Cup following its qualification to the top continental tournament.

The Philippine Azkals completed its historic run by beating Tajikistan 2-1 on Tuesday to secure a spot in the Asian Cup, its first stint there ever.

“At least now we know and we've been able to prove that we are actually worthy to be with the big boys in Asia. That's what we've achieved,” said Palami in an interview on ANC’s "Top Story."

“For us to play in a tier just below the World Cup is something we have been dreaming. Philippine football has been there for a 100 years and this is the first time that we've actually been able to do it.”

Now that the Philippines has already gained qualification on the Asian level, Palami said the team must work to make sure that the Azkals will be able to make a strong debut in the Cup.

Much of the work involves securing the needed pieces to get the job done.

“For now half the work has been done, the other half is to make sure that we're in the Asian Cup not just to participate but make sure to create an impact,” said Palami. 

“Right now I've already been talking to players who could be part of our roster in the Asian Cup.”

Palami assured that the Azkals will be retaining the core of the team that beat Tajikistan.

That means the likes of Neil Etheridge, Daisuke Sato, siblings James and Phil Younghusband, Mike Ott and Misagh Bahadoran will be strong contenders for the nationals.

However, Palami said it will be the coaching staff’s call who will really make up the team.

“It will be their job to choose the players, my job will be to give the coaches more options. I just give them stronger options . . . My job is to bring the players in and get them to represent the country the best way they can,” the Azkals team manager said.

Palami also hopes that the Azkals’ latest win will create a resurgence of football in the country.

“We hope that this will actually create another momentum in the sport and that this time we are able to ride on the wave,” he said.

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