Limpag: Can AFF save U23 Azkals SEAG stint?


Azkals Under 23Considering our history, no one in his right mind would think the Philippines can win a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games men’s football event. That’s why the decision of the Philippine Olympic Committee not to send the U23 Azkals to the Southeast Asian Games is illogical.

Consider the logic of the POC. The Philippine team doesn’t deserve to go because it only had one friendly, and it lost to Singapore in Singapore, 1-0. Why would an NSA plan for friendlies for the U23 Azkals if the purpose of the friendlies–the SEA Games stint–is not certain in the first place?

It’s the chicken and egg thing.

POC chairman Tom Carrasco said the U23 Azkals don’t have a track record to speak of.

Well, duh!!! If Tom knows his SEAG history, he should know that in the past six SEA Games, we only sent a football team twice!

What track record would he expect from that? It would be like the Triathlon Association of the Philippines, stopping all triathlon programs because we never had anyone qualify for the triathlon event in the Olympics.

And how would the U23 Azkals establish a track record if the team doesn’t get to participate in the SEA Games in the first place?

I tell you, playing politics is making fools of the POC/PSC.

Because it is what it is, our sports leaders playing politics at the expense of those who actually work. This is not about whether the Philippines has a chance to win the gold medal in football, this is about the PSC and POC message of displeasure to Myanmar. A message, which they went on record, more than a year ago when Myanmar removed a lot of Olympic events and included more than 50 gold medals for the country’s indigenous martial arts.

Like the PSC and POC, I am disgusted with how Myanmar is conducting the games, but unlike the PSC, my message is to boycott the darn farce of a SEA Games outright. But the POC and PSC have a different idea. “We’ll send a lean delegation.”

Over a year ago, PSC chairman Ritchie Garcia even said they’ll send just 50 athletes, and to reinforce that message, he won’t be attending the games.


Never mind if the PFF is trying to right the wrongs of previous administrations.

Never mind if, finally, the private sector are chipping in for football.

As long as the PSC gets to send the message, everything’s alright in their book.

But I think it’s more than just the message, it’s about preserving their behinds.

Ever since I covered the sports beat, every time we sent a delegation to the SEA Games (except when we hosted it in 2005), Team Philippines’ performance have always led to calls for the resignation of the POC and PSC chairman. How can a country of 80 million win so few medals? Where’s our grassroots program? These questions won’t be asked, because we sent a lean delegation in the first place.

This lean delegation provides the PSC with an instant excuse. But I say, if a gold-medal is their criteria, then if one athlete from this year’s delegation fails to win one, then they should have the delicadeza to resign.

And how about the PFF and its plans for a couple of international camps for the U23?

The PFF is responsible for football development in the country and it has done so sans support from the PSC and POC. The NSA can roll with the decision or it can defy them—and I’ll support them—and send the squad to Myanmar, with the blessing of the AFF, which could help things rolling by saying that as an AFF-sanctioned event, the Philippines is required to participate.

Take that, Tom!

By Mike Limpag @

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