Friday, June 07, 2013

Fair play: Call-ups to the national team a sham?

IT DIDN’T generate as much reaction, but for me, one of the most controversial statements I’ve heard lately was one made by Monchu Garcia of the Green Archers United to writer and TV commentator Bob Guerrero.

Garcia said, “The so called ‘call-ups to the Azkal team have been shams all along to make it look like they are scouting new players when in fact, it’s the same old boys club.  The worst part is that many of these players with potential are giving up on their dream to play for their country.”
That’s a pretty strong condemnation of how they run the national team and do I agree with it? No.

Of course a national team’s lineup--as in the case of other teams--always attract debates but to go as far as to call the “call ups” a sham?

I think one reason for the difference of opinion is the different take between fans, critics and the national team management regarding friendlies.

One side sees them as a chance for the team to let in some new faces experience international play, the other sees it as a chance to earn Fifa ranking points.

I remember one time, after his much criticized rotation--or lack thereof--of players in a series of friendlies in the Middle East a year ago,
I asked coach Weiss, why he made an injury time substitution in a friendly.

He said, “To waste time of course.”

And that basically captures the coach’s attitude when it comes to friendlies.  Is it the right or wrong attitude?  It depends on what you think we have friendlies for.

Can we treat friendlies as a chance to both test new players and earn Fifa points? I think so.

And I still wish that in friendlies, we’ll have that one player who’d get his first taste, so he’d be tested whether he has what it takes.

And this is where the whole argument begins. What will it take for a new guy to break into the team?

There are a lot of players who we all think should be in the team and there are even those who make their case regularly in the UFL.  And this, I think, is where the “sham” part came up.  Why aren’t they in the squad?  And does an invitation to a training camp guarantee a call up?

Local players, I think, have to prove themselves twice to get a spot.  First in the UFL (or other local tourneys) to get an invite and second in the training camps to make the roster.  Is that unfair?  Perhaps, but isn’t that how things are done especially if you compete for spots against those who play in the Bundesliga and Premier League?

Garcia says it’s just an Old boys squad, the same people are just in the team but you could say too that so far, the national team isn’t doing too bad with the same old boys squad.

A perfect record—four wins, four shutouts and 10 goals—in 2013 has perhaps embolden the national team not to tinker too much with the senior squad, and with a series of friendlies and a tournament for the U23, giving those with potential a break will be addressed.

As for me, I like that there are more critical takes on the national squad, and things like this adds to the discussion. But for now, I give them the benefit of the doubt, their perfect run so far show that they’ve earned it.

But you know how we can put some of the issues to rest? Put up a B squad and have an annual competition between the A and B squads.  But that’s just a thought.


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