MANILA -- A leadership squabble has erupted following the Philippine Azkals’ sorry performance in the four-nation Chinese Taipei Football Association Invitational Tournament.
On Tuesday, the final day of the tournament, the shorthanded Azkals squad suffered a 1-0 defeat to lower ranked Timor Leste at Municipal Stadium in Taipei.
Ironically, the defeat took place on the anniversary of then so-called “Miracle of Hanoi” where the nationals were able to upset powerhouse Vietnam in the 2010 Suzuki Cup.
Dan Palami, the team manager credited for the rise of the Azkals and chairman of Philippine Football League club Global FC, aired his disappointment through Twitter.
The team, which also lost to host squad Chinese Taipei after a win against Laos, was composed of a few veterans, players from the U-22 Southeast Asian Games squad and university standouts.
Most of the regular Azkals were not available because they were not released by their respective clubs due to the Philippine Football League season is in its semi-finals stage. The CTFA Invitational Tournament dates are also outside of the FIFA dates so a number of call ups on foreign-based Filipino players were not successful.
Azkals’ team manager to the Taiwan tilt, Jefferson Cheng, didn’t like Palami’s reaction.
“I think whoever makes these negative statements are being unfair. We ended up second place with 3 days preparation, the players were given the best organization one can possibly do with the time, and logistics constraints we have plus the conflict that the CTFA Tournament have with the PFL schedule,” he said.
Cheng, who also owns the Davao Aguilas FC, pointed out that detractors should instead focus on the positive side of their Taiwan stint.
“We may not have won the tournament but the winner here is Philippine football. The exposure given to our younger players was the right thing to do,” he said.
“The senior players mentoring and leading the younger ones was a very good and encouraging thing to see. I think this is what team sports are all about. This experience of our younger players will only encourage and bring more fans, supporters and followers to our national team and Philippine football. Importante magtulungan tayo.”