Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The failed U23 experiment

THE only positive thing that we can take in that loss against Timor Leste was that the U23 squad looked good in blue. And Ebong, too. The Blue-Haired fanatic whose voice we all heard on TV was fantastic.

The team? The result? To be perfectly blunt it was a scrappy game from a scrappy team that seemed to treat the SEAG as a vacation, or a chance to gain more Twitter followers. (Yey, I can tweet the team apology first!)

Going into the match, almost every fan who paid attention knew that we needed to win. Unfortunately, it seemed the players were operating on a different mindset.

I think it was only in the final 20 minutes that it dawned to the players that we had to win, coming up with a level of football unseen in the previous 70 minutes and in that 90 minutes against Vietnam.

And even that is damning.

We played better when starters like Matt and Mark Hartmann were off the field? Why are they even starting in the first place? You rarely see a captain getting subbed and for me, Matt getting replaced shows the coaching staff has no idea what they’re doing or who they should be fielding.

Is Coach Michael Weiss paying attention to our lapses? Does the rest of the coaching staff even voice out to coach Weiss what we need to adjust?

Whatever happens in the next few games, the Timor Leste match has showed that this U23 experiment is a big failure.

We can’t have a ragtag team train for less than two months and expect them to beat the opposition just because we have guys who’ve played in England, Germany, US or what-have-you.

And why was the training of the U-23 team ignored? Because the PFF and the management team were too busy with the Azkals and preparing for pa-pogi friendly games against Nepal and Victoria Beckham’s husband that they forgot we had a U-23 team?

And don’t tell me the team’s training wasn’t ignored. Dan Palami, Coach Michael Weiss and the rest of the coaching staff know they were under-prepared. And why do we have the same coaching staff for the U23 and the Azkals? These guys aren't supermen and can't be in two training sessions at the same time.

Haven’t they learned the lesson of 2005? When the management of that team, which started training in May of that SEAG year, longed for more time to train?

They answered that with a two-month training period?

Why?

I hope, too, the PFF learns the lesson of the Timor Leste fiasco, a loss the team so deserve.

Some writers call it an upset, but it wasn’t. It was far from one.

East Timor’s win is a product of a good grassroots program, while our SEAG stint, is beginning to look like a product of an NSA trying to bank on good-looking players.

While some were quick to dismiss East Timor as an easy team, I didn’t join that because while the Philippines, since 2010, has been looking for outside strength to power the squad, East Timor has been looking inside.

That’s strengthening the grassroots Dear PFF in case you’re paying attention.

In 2007, our senior squad beat East Timor by seven goals, but in the AFC U16 qualfiers in 2009—call it the Pre-Azkals time if you will—our Philippine team conceded 26 goals in five losses in Group E against Japan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Chinese Taipei.

East Timor? That lowly team? Its U16 squad scored 22 goals while conceding none in Group F against China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guam and Macau. East Timor finished second to China in the group to become just one of three Southeast Asian teams to make the final stages.

As for us?

We went home with our tails between our legs.

And we will in the future because despite the success of the Azkals and the popularity of football we have zero grassroots development,  thanks to the guys at the PFF.

The PFF hasn’t taken one single concrete step to developing a grassroots program and it is such a disappointing turn from an administration who took over a previous failure.


"Way klaro ang PFF ron," a former national player said. And citing a former head coach of the national team, he said. "Way program PFF. Puro man pa-pogi ila."

I told a Philippine Management team official (not Dan Palami) back in July, “Bay, The PFF is not doing anything! There’s no grassroots program! We can’t rely on the Fil-foreigners forever. We have to develop our talents. But the PFF is not developing talents!”

He agreed to a few of what I said but I told him, “I won’t write that down, yet. I’m giving you guys a one-year honeymoon. After all the negative that has been written the past few years, Philippine football deserves a break. But we need a real grassroots program.”

And Timor Leste? That former minnows in Southeast Asian football? The guys—not minding if they channeled their inner Cristiano Ronaldo—showed how an honest-to-goodness-program will fair vis-a-visa rag-tag team.

Sure, the team did their best, sure they deserve our support.

But we are long past that moment when “at least they did their best” is enough.

Because it isn’t.

And this Under 23 team—and coaching staff--deserve to be told: You guys are not doing enough.

It’s as simple as that.






58 comments:

Azkal in Jakarta said...

What really bugs me is that, we have competent and capable AFC license home grown coaches who can handle the U23 team which could have trained longer and joined tournaments together to improve cohesion - which obviously lacking in both games, individual quality is there but you need a team to win its that simple, Coach Weiss handling both the senior and the U23 is not really a wise decision since these are two different sets of players. Or the PFF is just being frugal since the federation is not paying for Coach Weiss.

The PH team preparation is relatively a shot in the dark compared to a SEA power house Indonesia which employed a different coach for their Senior team - Wim Rijsbergen (Dutch)and U23 coach Rahmad Darmawan (Indonesian) comparatively common sense dictates that this is sound so that both teams will have direction and focus even if some players play in the senior team for a different coach.

I am currently based Jakarta, to tell you honestly its a footballing heaven - football is imbibe in their blood I can honestly say that we have a long-way to go. I have been with the PH football program through the PFF both as a player and a coach. I hope we can learn from our past mistakes, I believe that we can do it with patience and the right program properly supervised we can do it!

Unknown said...

I totally agree with you boss Mike.IMHO,if they want to form a formidable national team,they should prepare a core team as early as U-12 which in time will be our senior team.I'm sorry but i see/hear no grassroots developed by PFF.

Marg Azkalera said...

I strongly agree with this article. It has long been a question in my mind if how would Coach Weiss and the other coaching staff be able to coach the U23 while the game vs. LA Galaxy is fast approaching. Things are more complicated this time, that's pretty obvious.

But I don't think it is about papogi. I think it is actually about the lack of planning efficiency. If they actually think that the coaching staff can handle two things at the same time and produce desirable results, then perhaps its time for them to wake up. Come on! Time is very essential and plays a huge role in developing a team's coherence which is needed to yield good results. I do hope they would learn from that.

The grassroots program is also another issue. PFF badly needs to develop this since the future of Philippine Football will fade if we will always rely on Fil-foreigners (as said in the article). Take Stephan Shrock as an example, he was an asset to the team yet he can't play that often since he has a commitment to his team in Germany. The main reason why they aren't always available is because of their commitments to their teams and the PFF can't afford to give them the same compensation that they receive in their teams (that's too expensive). We can't always say that we have a "Chieffy Caligdong". We don't know what would happen. What if Chieffy will be injured? What if the Younghusbands will transfer to other teams? What if the Fil-foreign players won't be available in an important game? There are tons of "what ifs" to consider and if one of these happens,PFF has no countermeasure since no "grassroots program" has ever been heard.

Please, don't let the efforts of Ebong and the rest of the Kaholeros, even the supporters and the players be wasted just because of this manyana habit. Now that football's prominence is developing all over the country, may the PFF take this into action.

Lei said...

I sobrang agree with all the points you raised in here. The team was disorganized. We seriously need to develop/train a core team for all levels.

We have a loooooooong way to go.

Anonymous said...

and what about you mr. writer....have u done anything but to complain? u call this team papogi because there are halfies...what about the musangs who were dead last in their tournament...how come nobody has dragged that team to the grounds with insults because they are full pinoys? .....this post is reeking with so much bias and racism......it makes me sick .....

Mike said...

I never called the team papogi.Give the same hype to the Musangs, plus the TV coverage and they'll get their share too.

And I'm not racist--biased for football maybe.

But racist?

Never.

P.S.
Would you like a pill?

Anonymous said...

i agree with all your rants about the PFF, the absence of grass roots program etc. but i strongly disagree with your comment that "we are long past that moment when at least they did their best is enough". You said it yourself,the team practiced for only 2 months. So how can you say we are LONG past that moment? You are simply expecting a lot from a team whose got little practice and with no focused coaching staff. Ka walay klaro nimo bay limpag..hehehe

Anonymous said...

i agree with all your rants about the PFF, the absence of grass roots program etc. but i strongly disagree with your comment that "we are long past that moment when at least they did their best is enough". You said it yourself,the team practiced for only 2 months. So how can you say we are LONG past that moment? You are simply expecting a lot from a team whose got little practice and with no focused coaching staff. Ka walay klaro nimo bay limpag..hehehe

Mike said...

When they lose, fans always take comfort in the fact that "at least they did their best." In Southeast Asian football, that doesn't fly anymore.

That part is vague. It should read:

"But we are long past that moment when 'at least they did their best' is enough for fans.

Anonymous said...

Long and short of it is MONEY. Who's going to pony up the money for the football fields, training of coaches, overseas stints for our various training pools ? The adage still applies, " after all has been said and done , more has been said and done." Well, at least may awareness na. Let's just see it translated into action. Mabuhay and Pilipinas Futbol!

Mike said...

To Mr. Anonymous. That's a good point.

Yap, it's great that there's more awareness for the sport and all national teams, not just senior team.

saNDugo said...

Mike, when you write like this, your passion for your true calling oozes out. That is always a good thing for our football. Don't stop being critical, please, you are a voice that many people listen to. Probe more, probe deeply with a vision to right the wrong; for ethical, socially responsible football journalism that would bring out into the open wider issues of our football journey. We need that, man, please.

I thought my cries would never be heard. Many times I had mentioned in many blogs and online publications my concern for PFF's lack of design for grassroots program. A beat down from an awful team like TLS had to happen first before a few would finally make some noises. Incidentally, as if on cue, a newsreport fm GMA tells of the PFF nursing a grassroots "footballilit" program apparently in the country somewhere else. I treat that bit of news with guarded optimism on account of lack of details. There are no pictures or testimonials or any feedback from a single participant whatsoever yet, but maybe, let's hope, that it is really a work in progress.

As for issues concerning recruitment of foreign-based players for the MAIN Azkals team, I never had any problems with it, on the contrary, I'm all for it. I think that the scheme employed in recruiting more experiences, more-skilled foreign based players is absolutely necessary for our football's attraction and sustainment. But that there should be another part of the house exclusively involved in responsibly BUILDING from our youth a decent program long-term wise, just like every other country in asia has been doing to date. It's not even an issue of 'fairness to our local homegrown kids', it's just the RIGHT THING TO DO. This football resurgent is, after all, what these are all about in the first place: opportunity. Our boys are denied this if no one sets the condition for them to grow, if there is no program set up that would norture youth development so that one day they too would have the chance to take their game to higher levels. The current, let me just use this term and I hate it, 'debacle' in the SEAG, basically had the local homeheads forfeit the rare opportunity of utilizing the SEAG platform for their own advancements. Who cares if they would had lost? That would have planted a seed in them, a STEP, a reckoning point, for the future. Somewhere in the system is a bad engineer who miscalculates the capability of the homegrown footballer's potential. If once upon a time that was okay, this is not the case anymore today. What they don't realize is that these kids are hungry and they want to get in the mix. Golly, why deny them the experience? It's theirs from the get go!

I'm not taking away the good efforts of the Filipino players from abroad. They were called, they showed up, just like anyone would. Kudos to their efforts. But clearly we just learned the hard way the importance of ascertaining our priorities first before deciding to take to the arena. We just have to give our local boys a chance to compete. To say that there is not enough local homeheads in my own opinion is stupidity and unpatriotic.

As for the games, I can look the other way with Vietnam game, against ours that team had character and class. Against Timor, if we were awful, they were awful too; we just outawful'd them.

saNDugo said...

Timor Leste had the same problematic backfield as us. For the most part they could not arrest our attacks, no air power, poor tackling, and couldn't burn any pace at all to move forward in support of their own attacks. There isn't any dominant player in that back line or somebody that had a commanding presence that really controlled things. That backline, as matter of fact, was "soft" too, or missing any sign of rugged defending. They didn't look like they were comfortable with the ball, but I'm not really sure; maybe they were just having a bad day too. Jet lag :-)

Even if say we had the scouting report on TLS internalized by our players (assuming somebody did their homework/did their job), we still would've had been handicapped on account of we didn't really have anybody upfront that could bully their back line into submission. The front put together had no tactical awareness, gave up easily, and pretty much did nothing or could not do anything to shake off TLS' defense. Maybe Valmayor at one point showed howitzer-like power on that foot, reacting, I hope, on instincts. Leonora made the TLS forwards recognize his presence by fighting for the ball every time. This one kid #7 that scored the lone goal could've been an exponent that would have carried other attacks but his technical skills fell short because for the most part he got too busy occupying spots vacated by others, pretty much just like Ott's experience there. Manny Ott tried to dictate rhythm fm the start yet unnecessary errors by others made him into a damage control guy on the pitch, a job that took a lot out of him.

At any rate, my thing is this, that Weiss and his coaching staff did not do what they're supposed to do: THEY DID NOT DO THEIR JOB. His job description and the rest of his mates is to MANAGE and COACH and they're getting paid to do it. There are others that say they don't owe us the fans anything. Wrong! Oh they owe it to the fans big style! The fans deserve a better performance each time the team takes to the pitch. 110% conviction to win, no excuses. What good a coach are you if you don't have the conviction to win each time? Let your players not have confidence once in a while but not you in your capacity as coach. He'll you're suppose to put lightning bolts in your players' rears. Create, keep things together, inspire, drive, build...win, or at least play like winners. You failed in all counts!

Now instead of the Filipino football masses rejoicing about the games, anticipating like possessed lot anxious for the next game, there's nothing but loads of hearts broken. We don't deserve this.

Craig Burrows said...

Now hold on a second! You can accuse Mike of many things - most of which he will have either of accused himself of or laugh off but "racist" is something that he will not wear. Please think of a better insult and return for our amusement or just shuffle off to your quiet world rocking gently as you gaze at your thumb. But if we are to play insults my favourite is, "You remind me of a shiver looking for a spine to run up"., goodbye. - Craig Burrows.

Anonymous said...

We should accept the truth,.,.Philippines needs at least 15 to 20 years to be able top the present level of our fellow ASEAN,.,.,but during that time...maybe our fellow ASEAN is already way way far from us....

Chriscorn said...

This article is so Filipino. Talangka mentality at its best. Yes, your points are valid, we dont have any grassrots program, i think that is a very well known fact already. Anybody who follows football knows this. This is nothing new. Does this really need to be said everytime the Azkals lose? I think you are knowledgeable enough about football to realize that football in the Philippines only got a shot in the arm last DECEMBER 2010, when the Azkals won some games and made it to the semis in the Suzuki Cup. It hasnt even been a year yet that we've had this renaissance in football. And you are expecting our team, our U23 team to perform well that soon? We are still in our Infancy stage sir. you have to realize that. I was a former Philippine team representative in the U16 tourney back in the 90's in hongkong, so i trully understand how it feels to represent the country. You say they are pa-pogi, but i dont think you understand the sacrifices that the players make, doing two-a-day practices,training through all the good and bad weather, bad pitch conditions,playing through injury, being away from their family,skipping school etc. its so easy for you to say that they are not doing enough while you are sitting there on your computer just typing away at your own behest,just to satisfy your ego, just to bash this team, the coaching staff. Did you even watch the game? did you see how big and skillfull those timorese were? Did you know that some of those players play in the Brazilian and Australian league?we lost to a better team. That was plain and simple. Did you also know that Matt Hartman is a Midfielder converted to play centerback because we dont have anybody else who can play the position? Yes I agree, Mark hartman, i dont like his game at all. he is so over rated. After he scored that goal in the UFL-Azkals Allstar game via free kick, i think his head has swelled already. Ive watched him play several times already and i can really say that he is a very lazy player who only waits for the ball to come to him and doesnt go after it at all. But i think Matt has been playing his heart out and is out of position. Have you ever played football sir? im sure you would realize how difficult it is, at the international level pa, to adjust your game, playing a different position. i was an attacking midfield, and i can honestly, it was difficult for me to play center back. and thats just in the collegiate level, how much more if you are playing against these international, timorese/brazilian players who are longer, faster bigger than you. Football aint easy sir. You should try it sometime. Im sure you are so pleased with yourself after writing this article. Kudos to you, you are now a certified TALANGKA!

Chriscorn said...

This article is so Filipino. Talangka mentality at its best. Yes, your points are valid, we dont have any grassrots program, i think that is a very well known fact already. Anybody who follows football knows this. This is nothing new. Does this really need to be said everytime the Azkals lose? I think you are knowledgeable enough about football to realize that football in the Philippines only got a shot in the arm last DECEMBER 2010, when the Azkals won some games and made it to the semis in the Suzuki Cup. It hasnt even been a year yet that we've had this renaissance in football. And you are expecting our team, our U23 team to perform well that soon? We are still in our Infancy stage sir. you have to realize that. I was a former Philippine team representative in the U16 tourney back in the 90's in hongkong, so i trully understand how it feels to represent the country. You say they are pa-pogi, but i dont think you understand the sacrifices that the players make, doing two-a-day practices,training through all the good and bad weather, bad pitch conditions,playing through injury, being away from their family,skipping school etc. its so easy for you to say that they are not doing enough while you are sitting there on your computer just typing away at your own behest,just to satisfy your ego, just to bash this team, the coaching staff. Did you even watch the game? did you see how big and skillfull those timorese were? Did you know that some of those players play in the Brazilian and Australian league?we lost to a better team. That was plain and simple. Did you also know that Matt Hartman is a Midfielder converted to play centerback because we dont anybody else who can play the position? Yes I agree, Mark hartman, i dont like his game at all. he is so over rated. After he scored that goal in the UFL-Azkals Allstar game via free kick, i think his head has swelled already. Ive watched him play several times already and i can really say that he is a very lazy player who only waits for the ball to come to him and doesnt go after it at all. But i think Matt has been playing his heart out and is out of position. Have you ever played football sir? im sure you would realize how difficult it is, at the international level pa, to adjust your game, playing a different position. i was an attacking midfield, and i can honestly, it was difficult for me to play center back. and thats just in the collegiate level, how much more if you are playing against these international, timorese/brazilian players who are longer, faster bigger than you. Football aint easy sir. You should try it sometime. Im sure you are so pleased with yourself after writing this article. Kudos to you, you are now a certified TALANGKA!

Chriscorn said...

This article is so Filipino. Talangka mentality at its best. Yes, your points are valid, we dont have any grassrots program, i think that is a very well known fact already. Anybody who follows football knows this. This is nothing new. Does this really need to be said everytime the Azkals lose? I think you are knowledgeable enough about football to realize that football in the Philippines only got a shot in the arm last DECEMBER 2010, when the Azkals won some games and made it to the semis in the Suzuki Cup. It hasnt even been a year yet that we've had this renaissance in football. And you are expecting our team, our U23 team to perform well that soon? We are still in our Infancy stage sir. you have to realize that. I was a former Philippine team representative in the U16 tourney back in the 90's in hongkong, so i trully understand how it feels to represent the country. You say they are pa-pogi, but i dont think you understand the sacrifices that the players make, doing two-a-day practices,training through all the good and bad weather, bad pitch conditions,playing through injury, being away from their family,skipping school etc. its so easy for you to say that they are not doing enough while you are sitting there on your computer just typing away at your own behest,just to satisfy your ego, just to bash this team, the coaching staff. Did you even watch the game? did you see how big and skillfull those timorese were? Did you know that some of those players play in the Brazilian and Australian league?we lost to a better team. That was plain and simple. Did you also know that Matt Hartman is a Midfielder converted to play centerback because we dont anybody else who can play the position? Yes I agree, Mark hartman, i dont like his game at all. he is so over rated. After he scored that goal in the UFL-Azkals Allstar game via free kick, i think his head has swelled already. Ive watched him play several times already and i can really say that he is a very lazy player who only waits for the ball to come to him and doesnt go after it at all. But i think Matt has been playing his heart out and is out of position. Have you ever played football sir? im sure you would realize how difficult it is, at the international level pa, to adjust your game, playing a different position. i was an attacking midfield, and i can honestly, it was difficult for me to play center back. and thats just in the collegiate level, how much more if you are playing against these international, timorese/brazilian players who are longer, faster bigger than you. Football aint easy sir. You should try it sometime. Im sure you are so pleased with yourself after writing this article. Kudos to you, you are now a certified TALANGKA!

Anonymous said...

what about the musangs who were dead last in their tournament...how come nobody has dragged that team to the grounds with insults because they are full pinoys? - Maybe because they were NOT dead last! http://www.facebook.com/u19musangs

wannabe said...

i agree withthe comment of collecting players as early as U-12 team... having this may really build the core and for the young and experience-lacking PHIL football.. let's see what these home grown lads be cable of until they reachreach the qualifications for the U-23 SEA games.. maybe at this time.. we can be more cruel about our comments.. at this point in time pinas football still need to learn a lot.. the nation has always been exposed to basketball that more than half of our countrymen doesn't even have a clue about what football is.. for us knowing football by heart, we should be the advocates and love the game as it is, or even better.. GO football!

wannabe said...

i agree withthe comment of collecting players as early as U-12 team... having this may really build the core and for the young and experience-lacking PHIL football.. let's see what these home grown lads be cable of until they reachreach the qualifications for the U-23 SEA games.. maybe at this time.. we can be more cruel about our comments.. at this point in time pinas football still need to learn a lot.. the nation has always been exposed to basketball that more than half of our countrymen doesn't even have a clue about what football is.. for us knowing football by heart, we should be the advocates and love the game as it is, or even better.. GO football!

Anonymous said...

A strong and viable national professional league would be a big help. Most of our best players have nowhere to go after college.

Btw, whatever happened to Kasibulan 6-12? I still have my mini soccer ball from that program somewhere in the attic. Hehe.

Anonymous said...

Invest in infrastructure too. Tulad dito sa Bulacan for example. All we have is a decrepit sports complex overrun by weeds. No other football-related infrastucture in sight dito sa probinsya. Dami dami pa namang bakanteng lote.

Mike said...

Chriscorn,

Read the article again, did I say we just had a "pa-pogi team?"

That we don'have a grassroots program isn't a well-known fact. And I only said that now because the U23 team lost--I don't point that out every time the Azkals lose, I am no johnny-come-lately.

I don't expect our U23 team to perform well so soon after the Azkal success. I simply expect them to perform.

Typing away just to satisfy my ego? Heck, typing away is my job. And if I only wanted to satisfy my ego, I would have told Dan to pay me everytime they use the word "Azkal" because it was I who first suggested that nickname for the team.

I played football.

Pleased with myself? Heck, I wasnt happy that I have to write this article.

A talangka? Why? is criticizing the team now crab-mentality? Is the team so untouacable that they can't be criticized?

Talangka? Read my former posts dude.

Mike said...

To Sandugo

Now you know why I've always held back in criticizing Philippine.
This article, though strong, was nowhere near as strong-worded in my previous articles against Philippine football.

I have no problems in fielding in the Pinoys based abroad, but we have to do something at the homefront, too.

Anonymous said...

get coach simon mcmenemy back...coach weiss can't handle the pressure, both in the game and the critics in media. coach mcmenemy is now in indonesia coaching in super league there. and by the way, bring the greatwich also back...we dearly need them.

Yes Sir said...

While I agree that the U-23 team was nothing but scrappy, I think it's unfair to blame it all to the coaching staff (and to the players as well). Football is a competition. One team is better than the other. Mas magaling 'yung ibang team kaya tayo natalo. It's simple as that. 'Wag ka na magmarunong or don't complicate things pa. I'm having a feeling tuloy na you're the one behind PDBT's twitter account that keeps on bashing the Azkals. Hehe.

Anonymous said...

for some reason i find those who say football is hard doesnt really appreciate their sport.. you shouldnt be playing it at all if you think it aint easy.. sure this abroad based players plays it with passion and dedication, seeking glory for the home nation.. but still we need grassroots badly! whatever happened to the players of negros and iloilo u23? they'll beat any u23 azkals we have like vietnam and timor did.. now all the best to the next match!

CatsupOys said...

I strongly agree with Mike. I don't see any crab mentality about what he wrote. Besides there are 2 types of criticism and his is definitely constructive. There's no one else to blame here but the PFF. We sure are short of fundings. Hope we could get a lot of aspiring azkals from the UFL.

Anonymous said...

bottom line is we have a crappy grassroots program. but such harsh criticisms in every awful loss isn't gonna get us anywhere. isn't the racists'/haters'/crabs' negativity enough of a demotivation? for the few of you who believe in philippine football(and i know you do), shouldn't you just focus on taking the good out of every game instead of proving the doubters right? i believe most of your points are valid. just that its too early.

saNDugo said...

 
mr chriscork, listen to you. you are so full of it. played in the under16 in the 90s, well good for you. you've been in this game forever and you still don't get it. somebody actually wants to do something about what most if us never had and you want it stopped. thats a shame coming from a veteran. its people like you who "pretends" things are ok that's gonna prevent our football ftom going in the right direction. you and i in our time and those generations that that didnt do things to right the wrong are the true talangka!

“Infancy stage”.  Who’s infancy stage are we referring to here?  The disposition of the U23 team in the SEAG certainly could not be what you are referring to here as  the infancy stage. Infancy stage is where one starts to develop a unique feature and personality.  Of being soaked in enriched environment, football exposure obviously, of being stimulated to grow to a particular direction, of exploring

saNDugo said...

you are doing the RIGHT thing, mike.

Anonymous said...

Coach Mcmenemy isn't coming back. Please accept that. He isn't the answer! PFF needs to act on our grassroot program. I support the azkals and btw, I hate the word 'pa-pogi' it's not their fault if they're halfies and good-looking. Those guys can only learn from their mistakes and defeat. Good luck next time.

Unknown said...

I tend to agree with Mike. While the PFF with German support has made strides in local Football, it is clear they could've done better, simply because the Timor-Lechekanginamos have done better. They showed that a better program can be developed, something the current PFF has not been able to do.

Perhaps it is time for the PFF to humble themselves, and take a very long, hard, look a how the Timor-Lechians did their program. It is way more successful than ours.

codec said...

Hi Mike.
I'm happy to see that someone else had the same thoughts as I did. Posts like these are needed to give a wake up call to those who are both in the Azkals team management and the PFF.

To all other people who are commenting:

I suggest you reread Mike's post over and over again. This is the kind of criticism that I can call 'valid'. So before accuse him of 'crab mentality' and throw issues in like 'racism', comprehend first.
There are other guys who comment stuffs that are more 'talangka' thinking than this wonderful post.
Think before you click guys. Mike is right, the Azkals are not 'untouchable', so they too, can be criticized (in the right manner, though).

Amidst the losses, I still support the PHI team. I'm actually quite excited to see the u23 field in our home grown players. Again, I agree with Mike when he pointed out that the team played better when some of the starting XI like the Hartmann's were subbed off. It was a very good sight to see during the latter parts of PHI vs TLS when they started to display their true potentials.

I know we are all disappointed but I still see a bright future for us. This is not yet our time, we do need a good grassroots program, it all boils down to that.

Anonymous said...

Sir Mike, I salute you for your courage and passion in Philippine football. keep it up. If it will always go back to money, the Philippines is not getting any richer for the next decade but definitely, there are football-loving and passionatenFilipinos who will spend for the sport

Anonymous said...

this article is what football right now needs, a sober person that can tell us what is really happening, this is not a criticism but only a statement of facts... also we should ask the question, is the technical department of the pff really involve in all of this? or have they reduce themselves as stamp pads inside the pff office, for me the technical department should have played a crucial role specially in appointing coaches that we believe could have done much better, probably they are too afraid to rock the boat...

in perspective regarding the grassroots, we cannot say it is the culprit in this campaign because we all know since 2006 its none existence, and this things clearly manifested in our past aff/afc appearances with both u13/14 u16 and u19, so if we are looking for some one to blame i guess you all know who your looking for... bu the management and he coaching staff knew this and that is why the team heavily relayed on filipno players based abroad for the team, in doing so also weiss has overlooked some capable local talents like gery barbaso who i believe could had been influential in the back four.

For the hartmans probably nomads could offer them other sports to which their abilities could be in better use, why not try rugby? please and when you do try it please take your brother to do commentating also.

Chriscorn said...

What do you mean exactly by "Perform"? Is runnning, tackling, risking your health,going up against bigger opponents, not "performing" enough for you? Do you think those guys wanted to lose? Let me tell you this, if the fans feel bad after a loss, the players feel even 100x much worse than those fans on the stands or the writers covering the game. believe me, i have experienced being thrashed by international opponents in the past, and its no fun at all. no player/competitor wants to lose. PERIOD.Instead of just saying "we have no grassroots program", why dont you point out to Mr Palami what he needs to do? Do you have a plan in my mind? why dont you present it to them. Instead of writing these articles, which wouldnt do anything good, why dont you try to be an innovator. It seems like you have some pull with Mr Palami, why dont you use it? With the results we are getting with this team, i think its time for us to be constructive and not the opposite. Its so easy for us to be a Monday Morning Quarterback cause we are not the ones playing the game.

Chriscorn said...

What do you mean exactly by "Perform"? Is runnning, tackling, risking your health,going up against bigger opponents, not "performing" enough for you? Do you think those guys wanted to lose? Let me tell you this, if the fans feel bad after a loss, the players feel even 100x much worse than those fans on the stands or the writers covering the game. believe me, i have experienced being thrashed by international opponents in the past, and its no fun at all. no player/competitor wants to lose. PERIOD.Instead of just saying "we have no grassroots program", why dont you point out to Mr Palami what he needs to do? Do you have a plan in my mind? why dont you present it to them. Instead of writing these articles, which wouldnt do anything good, why dont you try to be an innovator. It seems like you have some pull with Mr Palami, why dont you use it? With the results we are getting with this team, i think its time for us to be constructive and not the opposite. Its so easy for us to be a Monday Morning Quarterback cause we are not the ones playing the game.

Mike said...

guys and gals,

Whether you agree with me or not, what is important is that we learn to argue about football without getting below the belt or resorting to insults.

Thanks

Mike said...

@Chriscorn,

I've focused on the positive in all previous losses that I'm getting accused of being a team apologist.

After last Monday's loss, the team, for me, doesn't deserved to be told "you're doing a good job." They deserve the hard truth--we ain't happy.

Sure they feel bad, but if they can't handle the pressure, then, perhaps they should have thought of that first before signing up for the team.

Yes, I am the Monday quarterback, but if the team/coaching staff, will only listen to articles from those who've played the international game then they better start subscribing to papers/magazines from England.

Anonymous said...

Dear author of this article,

Finally someone who can talk some sense! Your article took the words right out of my mouth, bless you for speaking the truth. Honeymoon phase is over and given the individual talents of our players, there is just little or no room for excuse anymore. Honestly I feel disappointed in our coaching staff. I almost feel like the players and their "lack" of cohesion is not truly the issue anymore. Whatever the constraints may be this time around, a committed athlete will always produce the most remarkable and unexpected result especially when they know what is on the line. And that's what we've seen with the calibre of our Azkals. Right now, it's not only our junior Azkals that need to step up but the coaching staff needs to man up as well.

Disappointed as I am though, I will continue supporting not just the Azkals but Philippine football in general, because that is what a true fan does. Yes, we may call out the team particularly when we feel they've made questionable plays on the field but that does not mean we're turning our backs completely on them. Some fans just can't stomach the fact that the players and the coaching staff will naturally commit mistakes. As a result, they be come so defensive when such things are brought in discussion and label dissenters as "haters" or even "crabs". And that is why I find your write-up a breath of fresh air.

Now that football in the country is progressing, I hope the mentality of "fans" and other sports "journalists" can follow suit. As an emerging footballing nation, there are a lot of maturity stages we have to go through and those aren't necessarily pretty.

MoiraGallaga said...

It is obvious that there is still a long road ahead and many challenges that Philippine football has to face. There's reason to be disappointed with the current U23 campaign in the SEA games and some valid questions have been raised. At least Mr. Palami has acknowledged that there is a need to "get back to the drawing board." That is a good sign, because at the end of the day what is going to be most important is to sustain the momentum Philippine football has at the moment so it can continue to grow and develop. The ball is in the PFF's hands, some harsh lessons are coming out of Indonesia. I hope something is done to address the issues that have been identified. If they are being addressed, then I think an effort must be made to communicate them more openly. As some comments here have indicated, the renaissance of Philippine football has only been a year old. Grassroots is crucial but the results of grassroots takes years, even decades to come to fruition. Also, while we are improving, our neighbors and regional rivals haven't been standing still either. Let's also try to keep that in perspective. WE BELIEVE!

MD said...

Unfortunately Mike, it's not really "as simple as that." What amazes me is your absolute belief that a grassroots program will solve all of our football woes. Probably it can but to remind you, a grassroots program entails infrastructure, funds and political will. Sadly, if you don't have the first two, it's unlikely you'll have the will thing.

Say for example Qatar, which now boast a spectacular grassroots program that aims to produce a competitive team when they host the Wold Cup in 2022 and they spend so much for it. But then they have oil and natural gas.

But also the thing is, not all grassroots program works. See the dynamic grassroots program of United States but still always come short of expectations through the years. Because most probably, another criteria for a grassroots program to be effective is "the nation must actually play the sport."

You see, we have the best boxer in the world, the 4th best basketball team in Asia and the world number 1 cue artist not because we have an effective grassroots program, but because Filipinos actually play those sports.And more importantly, they see this sport as a way out of poverty (that is why we have so much aspiring showbiz personalities as well).

And this is where the tragedy lies. Football is still seen as a glamor sport in this country, played mostly by the elite and middle class. I guess, because it is still being played(at least in Manila) in exclusive subdivisions(w/ football pitches) and most pays a fee just to be able to play it (summer clinics etc).

So that leaves PFF with not much options. With no funds, no infrastructure, they have to rely on popularity of the sport solely thus relying on a flawed system of mixing locals and Fil-For (which you irresponsibly labeled as mga papogi) to represent the squad.

This is perhaps to sustain the interest on football (so being pogi really helps in a way) and hope that football really sips into the consciousness of majority of Filipinos until one day a kid dreams to really play football.

Is U23 a failed experiment? Well they've lost to Vietnam & Timor Leste.

Do we need to change direction outright, drastically getting rid of services of Fil-Foreigners who affects team's cohesion? No and definitely not. And don't get me started about the benefits Fil-fors bring.

That is why we are probably experimenting. Given that we don't have a proper grassroots program and won't be able to afford one anytime soon, we can only make do with what we have - sporadic local talent and lots of Fil-Fors. And I think we can think of a more creative way of getting results than just kicking the Fil-Fors out.

It might have slipped your thoughts Mike that the exposure you are demanding for the locals, they are actually getting from playing with their more polished Fil-for counterparts. Maybe I'm wrong.

But to say that Timor Leste win is a product of a strong grassroots program is disingenuous when their squad right now is composed as well of players coming from abroad.

It's time to wake up Mike to the realities of Philippine society. We have to work with what we have rather than frustrate ourselves with our wishful thinking- unless of course you have natural gas and oil sitting in your backyard. Cheers!

MD said...

Unfortunately Mike, it's not really "as simple as that." What amazes me is your absolute belief that a grassroots program will solve all of our football woes. Probably it can but to remind you, a grassroots program entails infrastructure, funds and political will. Sadly, if you don't have the first two, it's unlikely you'll have the will thing.

Say for example Qatar, which now boast a spectacular grassroots program that aims to produce a competitive team when they host the wold cup in 2022 and they spend so much for it. But then they have oil and natural gas.

But also the thing is, not all grassroots program works. See the dynamic grassroots program of United States but still always come short of expectations through the years. Because most probably, another criteria for a grassroots program to be effective is "the nation must actually play the sport."

You see, we have the best boxer in the world, the 4th best basketball team in Asia and the world number 1 cue artist not because we have an effective grassroots program, but because Filipinos actually play those sports.And more importantly, they see this sport as a way out of poverty (that is why we have so much aspiring showbiz personalities as well).

And this is where the tragedy lies. Football is still seen as a glamour sport in this country, played mostly by the elite and middle class. I guess, because it is still being played(at least in Manila) in exclusive subdivisions(w/ football pitches) and most pays a fee just to be able to play it (summer clinics etc).

So that leaves PFF with not much options. With no funds, no infrastructure, they have to rely on popularity of the sport solely thus relying on a flawed system of mixing locals and Fil-For (which you irresponsibly labeled as mga papogi) to represent the squad.

This is perhaps to sustain the interest on football (so being pogi really helps in a way) and hope that football really sips into the consciousness of majority of Filipinos until one day a kid dreams to really play football.

Is U23 a failed experiment? Well they've lost to Vietnam & Timor Leste.

Do we have now to change direction outright, drastically getting rid of services of Fil-Foreigners who affects team's cohesion? No and definitely not. And don't get me started about the benefits Fil-fors bring.

That is why we are probably experimenting. Given that we don't have a proper grassroots program and won't be able to afford one anytime soon, we can only make do with what we have - sporadic local talent and lots of Fil-Fors. And I think we can think of a more creative way of getting results than just kicking the Fil-Fors out.

It might have slipped your thoughts Mike that the exposure you are demanding for the locals, they are actually getting from playing with their more polished Fil-for counterparts. Maybe I'm wrong.

But to say that Timor Leste win is a product of a strong grassroots program is disingenuous when their squad right now is composed as well of players coming from abroad.

It's time to wake up Mike to the realities of Philippine society. We have to work with what we have rather than frustrate ourselves with our wishful thinking- unless of course you have natural gas and oil sitting in your backyard. Cheers!

Mike said...

I don't think a grassroots program is the end-all for our football woes. What I told an official was that the PFF should start taking the concrete steps to establishing one, to piggy-back on football's popularity.

I have nothing against the Pinoys based abroad and changing course after two games isn't probably the best move. What I pointed out was we could have done better in preparing this SEAG squad.

P.S.

I didn't call the Filipino-Foreigners pa-pogi, it was the friendly that I called pa-pogi to highlight a point that the training was overlooked. In hindsight, not the best choice of word.

Mike said...

MD,

You present your ideas, thoughts very well. I'll buy you a few drinks if we meet so we can all explore all these talks.

Cheers.

Mike said...

Mr. Anonymous,

Like you, whatever happens in the SEAG, I will always support Philippine football.

saNDugo said...

It will be a disservice to the fans and football advocates if columns and news is all pure entertainment instead of informative. This article renders it service by making people become aware of mistakes made by the U23 coaching staff and their players. Whether we like it or not, in the bigger picture, lack of grassroots system and the absence of a decent football youth program at the national level by the PFF, is the essence of the causes for this past 2 games’ failure. Those that “like” the Azkals and football in general tend to only see things that are directly in front of them. The ones that “love” the sport see beyond just the image in front of them and feel the urgency to tackle reality in its rawest form. The minority of these two groups decided to tackle the reality and it is that the PFF is not doing a good job at making sure that the future of our football is secure; that there is no system set that provides conditions for our youth football players. Really, our country’s football following is delineated by these two groups. They’re not one and the same, but both are good for our football.

We all want to believe things have changed in the PFF. It’s under new management. Weather the new management have utilized a different approach to address mistakes done in the past, or are better prepared for the future than the previous ones, we don’t really know. Clearly when it comes to popularizing the game in our country they have indeed done a remarkable job. LA Galaxy with Becks and Donovan in December, whoa, if that doesn’t intensify more cravings among football fanatics and would-be football fanatics, I don’t know what else will. But when one takes the time to examine the past year’s journey of our football, it’s not hard to see that our PFF gods had failed to develop a system, particularly an efficient strategic approach to the growing football competition in Asia. Notice the word “efficient” and not mere “effective”. Recruitment of Filipinos living abroad is effective, but NOT efficient. Fielding Filipino foreign-based players with more experience than our local home-based players on the pitch is effective, but NOT efficient. Composing on the fly a motley of players from different points who barely had the chance to get to know each other or bond into what is fundamentally known as TEAM for a shot at major competition for flag and all that good stuff is effective, but NEVER efficient.

So you ask, why are fans and followers pointing the fingers at PFF? They had it coming from day one of new management when nothing was immediately drawn out to drastically address this problem of grassroots. Will we accept “it’s not that easy” as an excuse? No. Is it a complex thing to do? Yes, maybe. Is a creation of a blue-print for a grassroots football system for our youth so demanding it would take more than year to weave a general plan? Could be. Are there strong unseen forces preventing or influencing the creation of youth-system design? Ok, sure. Boy, have we got ourselves a long list of excuses?

Here’s a solution: ACTION! ACTION! ACTION! Put together a bunch of smart people and let them brainstorm a design. Task a study group to do a research on what other countries are doing with their football programs. Send people out there to look into these programs and copy/paste these programs into ours, then later adopt changes and make it our own. Liaise with football federations of other nations; send people to the moon, if that’s necessary. Find an attainable standard model that is flexible and more applicable to our needs. Turn that model inside out, decapitate it, break it apart, then put it back together. Develop. But more importantly, START the first step. Do something!

Funding is a problem, you’d say. Of course. Classic. You’ll find a way PFF. You are already spending money. Effectively or efficiently? Neither, nor. 90% of that money should be grassroots or youth development program, the others can fight for the 10%.

MD said...

I'll look forward to that drink, Mike! But it's great to have these conversations about football. I think we should have a genuine football congress where Mike buys everyone a drink. Surely, good things would come out of that! Drop me a mail and I'll look you up when I'm in Cebu. Until then, grassroots or not, I'll always follow your blog. Cheers indeed!

Mike said...

To Yes Sir,

I'm don't bash for the sake of bashing. Even pre-Suzuki Cup 2010, in al my criticisms of the PFF, when I wrote that Mari Martinez should step down, I never hid behind an identity.

To Mr. Anonymous, I understand how you can say that these criticisms are too early (fact is, it has been my practice not to criticize team selection/preparation when a tournament is ongoing) But I felt I hado.

To Mr. anonymous (the one commenting about Coach McMenemy). Yep, he isn't coming back, besides, what many tend to overlook is that he repead the benefits of Des Bulpin's system.

I regret that "pa-pogi" term, it looked good when I was typing it. Now, it has been misinterpreted.

To Codec: Thanks bay! And I agree, we may be disappointed but the future is bright, 100x brighter than it was just a year ago.

To Chriscorn. Let's no go there, being literal won't get us anywhere. Yes, I like to think I have some pull with Mr. Palami, but I don't like to use it. These days, the only way I "use" it is when I have something to say and he obliges me by listening or reading what I have to say. And he has with this article.

To Craig Burrows: Thanks for the assist Craig, as always, Azkalitis has no cure. This is but one of the symptoms.

And to SanDugo and MD,
You guys are one of a kind. Often I've seen in football meetings, boardroom meetings folk who can see eye-to-eye or get personal because they can't agree on something.

Learning to talk about contrasting points--and learning to listen--is what makes for a good organization.

To the guys,gals or guy/gal who have called me talangka, racist for writing this.

I've written about Philippine football and about the senior and SEAG teams since 2000. I've painted a damning picture of Philippine football in 2010, even cursing it in 2006, and even choosing to boycott writing about Philippine footie for the better part of 2009-2010.

In the previous losses, when the senior team took a lot of bashing, I looked the otherway and focused on the positives. I even picked a fight with a few colleagues when they were nit-picking against the team.

Do you know what hurts? Not the name-calling, I've learned that it goes around in this business. What hurts is that I had to write this.

Thank you all for dropping by.

This Friday, let's forget our disagreements for once and cheer for our boys.

saNDugo said...

no worries, mike. i got mad love for our country's football. nothing personal dandan palami, sangkay! mike, i heard you're buying drinks this friday?

Chriscorn said...

You know what Mike, differences in opinion aside, reading the comments here in your articles and on other articles as well like on FB or other blogs, makes me smile inside cause this just shows how things have changed. football is now being TALKED ABOUT in the philippines. A few years ago, if you wouldv told me that this was gonna happen, i wouldv laughed at ya so hard. Seeing even girls on FB post intelligent comments, not just commenting about the good looking players really amazes me how Filipinos have now become more knowledgeable about football. i was talking to my old coach the other, we talked about how when you were playing more than a decade, nobody even gave a crap. The only people who knew we were going abroad to play were our parents.LOL. But now, even the local leagues are getting broadcasted LIVE on television. Amazing! Seeing articles being shared on FB get 200 comments or more really amazes me to no end. People are really paying attention now. this really did not seem possible at all in the past. I do apologize for resorting to name calling in my previous post. That has no place in football. moving forward, all comments will intelligent and relevant to the topic at hand. nothing personal. Viva Football!

Mike said...

To Chriscorn,

Last year's Suzuki Cup really changed it. I still remember it. The upset win, the front page, the regular mention in the newscast.

And I firmly believe--whatever happens in the SEAG (we got three games left) Philippine football--not just the men's and U23 team--will improve. As to how they do it, well, it's going to be a wonderful topic.

If you played in the mid 90s internationally, we may have some common friends No I never suited up for the flag. (Wasn't good enough) But I know some who did.

Speaking of FB, some posts generate 2,000 comments! And the Azkal fan page has some 300,000 likes! People always say that the media played a key role in the renaissance. But I think the social networks, and the fan interaction, helped push mainstream media to cover football.

"See you" in Laos vs. Philippines.

saNDugo said...

mike, chriscorn, everyone -- we will remember, 10-20 yrs fm now, how our football was pushed/tossed high by the internet. social networking is core now in communication. it even brings down tyrannical (sp?) governments. in a way that never happened in my generation 70s-80s and yall's 90s, these networks also stand in the way of anyone prone to whatever evils that influence the pips who are running the show in our football journey. people will know, the fans will be made aware. the bad guys will be put in the spotlight. oh yes, it's a deterrent, if you will. massive "infrastructure" of the common fans and football combined.

Mike said...

To Sandug, chriscorn, MD and the rest of the guys who commented here.

That win was something!

Azkaholic Anonymous said...

it was mike! goosebumps. that backline still kills me though i hope theyd be more aggressive.

Azkaholic Anonymous said...

saNDugo is also AZcaholic Anonymous :-)