Tuesday, December 03, 2013

An interesting December for PH football

"NOW is the time to look deeper into the composition of the team," Philippine national team manager Dan Palami said during an interview a couple of days ago. "And that includes all the players and the coaching staff."

Coaching staff? 

“Everyone,” he said.


Everyone. He said and he didn’t blink.

The PFF, Dan said, is on an extensive evaluation process and the top of that agenda is the head coaching job of the senior team and Dan expects the news to be announced before the month ends.


Much has been said about the change of schedule of the AFC Challenge Cup, originally set in March next year to May, but what has been forgotten is that the change means the PFF must do either one of two things--find a new coach or give Coach Michael Weiss another extension.

His original one-year extension called for his stay until March, so he would be in charge until the Challenge Cup, but the tournament has been moved to May.

Of course, you can't hire a new coach just for that two months, as that would be a really stupid move. According to Dan, if there's a new one, it will be announced later this month and he'll be put in charge starting January, and the PFF would still pay the rest of the current coach's contract until March. If coach Weiss gets a contract extension, it would also be announced this month, so there would be no sword of uncertainty hanging over the staff's heads when they are preparing for the most important tournament in Philippine history. 

And, if they're looking for a new coach, surely they can't just release a "wanted ad" and hope someone will apply?  "There are ongoing talks on how to approach the next few months. Decisions will be made pretty soon."

Pretty soon.

Dan expects a maelstrom of criticism, whatever they do, but he says the PFF is looking into all angles.

"Besides, our rank of 133 shows that we know what we are doing. It did not come by accident.  It is a product of sacrifice and hard work," he said.

And it's not entirely because of the Azkals.

"The clubs should be given credit also, especially during those times when they released all the players."

To prepare for the Challenge Cup, there are going to be more training camps, and more camps means potential scheduling conflicts between the PFF and the clubs.

However, Dan is optimistic. "I'm actually expecting the clubs to be more cooperative.  All the stakeholders are aware of the importance of the Challenge Cup and what it would mean for Philippine football to be champions."

Because that’s their target.  When I asked him what the plans are for 2014, he said:

“In a nutshell, win the Challenge Cup and qualify for the Asian Cup.”

The schedule for these camps and tournaments abroad will be released early to avoid conflicts.

Aside from camps in Europe, the team is also planning to join a couple of tournaents in Pakistan and in Saudi Arabia.  The purpose of all of these would be to get the match-fitness levels of local players to that of those based in Europe and of course improve the familiarity of the players with each other as the match against UAE showed the need for it.

It’s going to be another interesting December for Philippine football.

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