Thursday, January 09, 2014

Fair Play: In 2014, it's win or bust for Azkals

(This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu's Jan. 9 edition)
I DON’T envy who ever would be in charge of the Philippine men’s senior football team this year as his would be one one pressure-packed job. Wait, let me backtrack a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, Dan Palami said they were evaluating everybody’s spot in the national team, including the coaching staff, and were supposed to make an announcement at the end of last year.



So far, no word on that. So it could there would be changes or there wouldn’t be in the coaching staff.

But, whoever the head coach would be, he should be told of this year’s goal. Spell it out.

Win a title or get sacked. And when I mean title, those pocket tournaments or the Peace Cup don’t count.

Is that too lofty a goal? Too ambitious a target for whoever is in charge?

Not really, considering the brief history of the national team--a third-place finish in the 2012 Challenge Cup and two straight semifinals appearances in the Suzuki Cup.

For the Challenge Cup--hey it’s only five months away and we’re still waiting for the final word on the coaching job--anything less than a finals stint is a failure. Ditto with the Suzuki Cup.

As the PFF is now hyping the fact that the Philippines is the top-ranked team in Southeast Asia--a ranking some countries could care less about as long as they have the hardware--the only acceptable result for the Suzuki Cup is one where we bring home trophy.

Anything less is a failure--nay, a disaster.

After a surprise semifinals stint in 2010 and a disappointing semifinal exit in 2012, the third time should be the charm for the Azkals. A semifinal exit, no matter how pretty you paint the picture, is just that, a semifinal exit.

We have almost a year to go before the Suzuki Cup and the goal should be made clear this early—the only target is the title.

And whoever is in charge should be told that. It’s time to lay out the goals for the head coach, tell him what’s to be expected of him.

And if it’s a new one, shouldn’t he get a honeymoon period? A time when nothing but postives and “let’s give him a chance” will be said of him?

Yes, we could give him one, but it should be up until the first friendly of the year. After that, let ‘em rip.

It’s time we let it be known that the head coaching job of the national team is not for those who wilt under pressure. That guaranteed contracts or not, and whether there are promises of an extension, if they can’t deliver, they will be fired.

So, to the head coach, whoever he will be--no pressure but it’s win or go home.

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