The Philippine team competing in the AFF U18 Women’s Championship in Palembang, Indonesia is currently on a two-game losing streak in the tournament.
The team suffered a 4-0 loss in its first game against Australia, then lost to Myanmar, 3-1, last Wednesday at the Jakabaring Athletic Field. Jonalyn Lucban has scored the lone goal so far for the Philippine side in the competitions, in the 87th minute, to cut Myanmar’s lead to 2-1, but a strike from Hnin Pwint Aye in stoppage time ensured the full three points for Myanmar.
The Filipinas will take on Malaysia today, 3.30 p.m. at Gelora Jakabaring to wrap up their Group B fixtures in the competitions. A win or even a draw will be a good way to end the campaign.
Much as we want to expect so much from the team—after all the Senior Team has just won the AFF Women’s Championship 2022 a few weeks back—reality is that the competition is really tough, even with the presence of two players—Isabella Flanigan and Chantelle Maniti—from the newly-crowned queens of Southeast Asia. Both Australia and Myanmar were too tough to crack. At least the future members of the senior squad will get a ton of experience and other valuable takeaways in Palembang.
But as shown by the Filipinas, patience, sound program and determination will bring good results in the long run. We will get there, too. And hopefully, the other national teams as well, whether the youth teams in both boys and girls and even the Azkals, too.
Speaking of the Azkals, Team Manager Dan Palami says the team will go through a major revamp coming from the disappointment in the Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia campaign. Palami says this was the consensus all along.
“Right now, we are basking on the success of the women’s and we are so happy for them. This is going to inspire us to go into another rebuilding phase for the Azklas. The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is looking at angles and all options that will allow the Azkals to be reinvigorated in terms of players, coaching staff and all aspects that are key to the success of the team,” Palami said to the The Designated Kit Man.
Palami said among the key takeaways of the Mongolia campaign is the need for the team to jell and be familiar with each other. And they are going to start with the Azkals based here in the country to form the core of the team as early as possible.
“One of the big problems that we have is we always get caught in the preparations for the big tournaments. So we want to identify initially the friendlies that we had, against Timor Leste for example, which we did not really advertise primarily because it coincided with the Women’s campaign and we wanted all the fans to focus on. The intention behind the friendly was to try to get together local-based players and maybe players, who have already committed to be with the team for the Mitsubishi Electric Cup (formerly the Suzuki Cup). We wanted to see where we are, where that team is, then do more friendlies and try to get more,” Palami explained.
Palami is also looking at the possibility of having the local-based Azkals practice more even if the local domestic league begins either next month or soon.
“We will try to get everybody together more often, especially the local-based ones so that at the very least, there will be some cohesion when the time comes. We have actually also asked the Philippines Football League to allow us time together with local-based Azkals to train every now and then, even during the course of the league, so that once again we will be able to develop the creation of the the team just in case our foreign-based players are not available,” Palami said.
Palami says the Mitsubishi Electric Cup will be held in the last week of December, until the second week of January next year. It will give the team enough time to prepare. Having Azkals, who are based abroad to reinforce the team will still be, however, most welcome.
“Of course, we would still look for the opportunity to invite our foreign-based Azkals, but kahit papaano, we already have a core of local based-players na sanay na sa system,” Palami explained. “We are looking at friendlies, even on non-FIFA dates just to keep ourselves sharp and to continue to identify players that can help the team.”
After the failure to qualify for the Asian Cup, Palami says the team has to start somewhere, regain the spark and the form that made the team strong and competitive. Palami understands the disappointment of die-hard Azkals fans and they plan to build a better team for the upcoming tournaments and friendlies.
“Everybody is. If you don’t feel disappointed, then you’re not a real fan. Yes, it was a disappointing campaign. But at the same time, it gave us the realization that we should really do more and do better. And I think the PFF recognizes that as well as the team management and that’s why even as soon as that campaign is finished, we already scheduled a friendly this time in preparation for Mitsubishi Electric Cup,” Palami added.
Without disclosing specifics, Palami said fans should expect some big news in the coming days as the team begins to rebuild for the better.
Again, if you love the Azkals, hope remains eternal. Kapit lang.
By the way, congratulations to the PFF for another milestone. Tomorrow morning, PFF president Nonong Araneta will lead the groundbreaking rites of the federation’s new headquarters in Cavite. The PFF will eventually move out from its old place in Pasig to Carmona and hopefully it will leave behind all the worries and concerns and bring only the good things and best practices in its new home.
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!
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