Azkals Under 23 team out of 27th Southeast Asian Games

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Filipino football fans’ dream of seeing Azkals Under 23 men’s team at this year’s Southeast Asian Games is tattered.

At the expanded executive board meeting of Philippine Olympic Committee yesterday, POC has slammed the door on Philippine Football Federation’s bid to field a team in men’s competition in Myanmar.

“There was no performance (to speak of) and there was no basis (to include it),” said POC chairman Tom Carrasco yesterday after meeting with national sports associations at the Philippine Sports Commission building, many of them bidding to add more athletes to the Philippine delegation to the Dec. 11 to 22 sportsfest.

Although the Azkals Under 23 team is boasted to have Azkals players, and training camps in Japan and Bahrain are lined-up to boost the under 23 team’s chance of winning in SEA Games; these did not sit well with POC.

The POC did not give in to the PFF’s letter giving POC an ultimatum in making a decision by Sept. 28. They made the decision a day earlier and denied their request citing Azkals Under 23 team’s lack of track record.

Carrasco said all the NSAs were given chances to upgrade their competence level following the 2011 SEAG in Indonesia and “many of them improved their performance.

While the PFF is sulking, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas was celebrating because POC has given them the opportunity to prove their potential in FIBA Asia in Bangkok in late-October before making a decision.

Carrasco had met with SBP executive director Sonny Barrios and assured him that the names of the women dribblers will be forwarded to Myanmar and it will be up to their performance in Bangkok if the POC will give them the go-signal.

Meanwhile, Carrasco said the POC will explore the possibility of chartering a plane to Nay Pyi Taw for the Philippine delegation.

“I have been told that some of the SEAG-member nations will go direct to Nay Pyi Taw,” said Carrasco.

Leading carrier Philippine Airlines has daily flights to Bangkok, while budget airline Cebu Pacific also has flights to Bangkok and even Siem Reap in Cambodia.

“We’ll see if we can come to an agreement,” said Carrasco, noting that on the way back from Nay Pyi Taw, a selected Philippine carrier can land in Bangkok or Siem Reap to ferry commercial passengers back to Manila.

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