By Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) – With the staging of the football event of the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia no longer in danger of being scrapped, the Philippines will now step up its programs for the under-23 team.
“It’s already a go for the SEAG after Indonesia escaped suspension from the Fifa so we’ll now sit down with coach Michael Weiss and team manager Dan Palami to discuss the training program for our under-23 team,” PFF president Nonong Araneta told The STAR.
“We’ll allocate budget for its preparations, highlighted by a training camp abroad. We’re looking at holding camp in the Middle East or in Japan, depending on the situation there because we know the Japenese are still recovering (from the devastating earthquake and tsunami),” Araneta added.
Hoping to ride on the momentum gained by the senior Azkals team, the Philippines is gunning for its first-ever medal in the SEAG men’s U-23 football event this year.
The PFF has formed a 40-man pool of local standouts of the last national U-23 tourney and Fil-foreigners eligible under the age-limit for the SEAG, led by Azkals Simon Greatwich and Jason de Jong.
Meanwhile, a nasty allegation of rape concerning four players marred the Azkals’ training but the team is taking this latest distraction in stride.
“As manager of the team, if this were true this will not be tolerated. On the other hand, I can’t impose sanctions based merely on Internet blogs because actually, I can write anything on the Internet. Actually many of the information on the Internet are unverified so I can’t rely on these alone,” said team manager Dan Palami in reaction to a blog and tabloid story accusing Azkals of rape.
“The other source of the information is a purported self-appointed PFF consultant who’s basing his appointment on a letter made by then president (Johnny) Romualdez who has long been gone from the scene. Between that and the internet blog, I have no sufficient basis to believe,” he added.
Coach Michael Weiss declined to comment, saying “we have more important things to do. We don’t need to get distracted from the real stuff – traning, travel, preparing for Kuwait.”