31 December 2010

UFL on Balls

MANILA, Philippines — Balls, the sports channel that brought the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League to the Philippines, kicks off 2011 by airing the United Football League (UFL): It’s Our Game starting Saturday at 6 p.m. with a replay on Jan. 4 at 5:30 p.m. on Studio 23.

The 30-minute weekly program will feature players and teams competing in the UFL as well as a Match of the Week along with updated results and other league highlights.

Manila Bulletin

Germans Offer Assitance, German coach for Azkals

THE Deutscher Futball-Bund (DFB), the governing body of German football, has sounded off its intention to help the national men’s football team, prompting Azkals team manager Dan Stephen Palami to fly over in January for a two-day exploratory talks.

Besides talking with DFB officials, Palami will also meet up with Fil-Germans Manuel Ott, Mark Drinkuth and Stephan Schrock to possibly suit them up for the Azkals’ Asian Football Federation Challenge Cup that kicks off on February 9 in Bacolod City in a home-and-away series with Mongolia.

The word is that the DFB has also offered to the national team the services of head coach Hans Michael Weiss, the current U-17 coach of Rwanda, as well as the technical director of the Rwanda Football Association.

Weiss, a 45-year-old native of Dannenfels, has also worked with the Chinese Football Association and the Kyoto Purple Sanga of the Japan Football League, among many others.

Weiss has also served an internship with Spanish giants Real Madrid, English football club Arsenal, Argentina’s River Plate and the Bundesliga’s FC Kaiserslautern.

The leadership controversy at the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), meanwhile, remained fever pitch even in the holidays with two Fifa legal eagles coming over for a quick one-day inquiry on what has transpired in the federation.

Fabienne Moser-Frei, Fifa head of corporate counsel, and My Dung Nguyen, Asian Football Confederation legal director, flew in on Thursday and met with PFF officials led by interim president Mariano Araneta.

But the two officials refused to comment about their investigation.

“We’re here to hear all sides,” said Moser-Frei in her only statement to the BusinessMirror. “Then we’ll make a report.”

Their mission was to conduct an overnight fact-finding mission on the issue that has led to a testy exchange of facsimile letters between Fifa president Joseph Blatter and AFC head Mohammad Bin-Hammam.

According to PFF secretary-general Ramon Manuel, the two lawyers were only informed the day before about their quick mission on the day of their departure.

As soon as the legal counsels arrived, they went to the PFF House of Football in Barangay Oranbo, Pasig City, to conduct interviews with available PFF board members. They verified documents and watched the video of the seventh PFF Ordinary Congress on November 27, 2010, where Jose Mari Martinez was removed and replaced as president.

Business Mirror

30 December 2010

Caslib explains how to fortify Azkals

by Joaquin Henson

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Football Federation (PFF) technical director and former national coach Aris Caslib plans to build up the Azkals through a comprehensive selection process where at least five players are nominated for each position with the goal of winning the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup in 2012.

“If we have to check our under-23 team down to the under-19, we have to do it with clear reason and direction,” said Caslib in explaining how to strengthen the Azkals. “The attitude in the selection process must be inclusive and well-planned.”

Caslib, who was the national coach before Desmond Bulpin and Simon McMenemy, said the process must involve recruiting standouts from local and overseas leagues.

“When we started opening our door to Filipino players based outside the country, we informed them that they had to come over for inspection,” said Caslib. “Chris Greatwich and Chad Gould did it in 2004 by staying for a month before competition. Phil and James Younghusband were inspected early in 2005 before the Southeast Asian Games which we hosted. This formula must be reaffirmed and be a policy for overseas players who would like to join the national team. The reason for this is to get quality players for the national team. The possible exceptions are those with top flight clubs in Europe.”

The recruitment and evaluation process has elevated several Fil-foreigners to the national squad. At the recent AFF Suzuki Cup, the Azkals were reinforced by overseas recruits Neil Etheridge of Fulham, Rob Gier of Ascot United, Ray Jonsson of Grindavik, Jason de Jong of Veendam, Greatwich of the Morris County Colonials and the Younghusband brothers. Other Fil-foreigners in the national pool are Mark Drinkuth of Agon Dusseldorf, Gino Pavone of the Bay Area Ambassadors, Manuel Ott of Ingolstadt II and Gould.

Etheridge, the country’s No. 1 goalkeeper, is the third youngest of the Fil-foreigners at 20. Gier is 30, Jonsson 31, James Younghusband 24, De Jong 20, Greatwich 27, Phil Younghusband 23, Greatwich 27, Drinkuth 19, Pavone 22, Ott 18 and Gould 28. The age limit for the SEA Games is 23, making only Etheridge, De Jong, Drinkuth, Pavone and Ott eligible. Phil Younghusband will be 24 when the next SEA Games begin in Indonesia in November.

Caslib said on the domestic front, priority must be given to players who have risen from the national youth program and are actively playing before elevation to the Azkals pool.

“Experience provides maturity, mental toughness, quality decision-making and stability,” he said. “However, late bloomers must be considered provided there is good reason for the player to be included. It is imperative that each national player plays at least 40 to 50 matches before international competition. Previously, national players got to play at least 30 to 36 matches in the Ang Liga.”

Caslib said there must be cooperation among club coaches to release their players to the national team at the start of training for an international tournament.

“It is imperative to release players if they are invited to play for the national team,” continued Caslib. “Some coaches don’t release players for reasons of safety of their own program in their respective colleges, universities and clubs. But we have to take a positive risk in order to raise football standards in their team and in our country. All coaches in the country must develop the habit of going for education courses. Also, we must provide coaches with a venue where potential players are selected and not only consider their own players in their respective clubs but the best players available.”

Caslib said no doubt, a competitive local league and the opportunity to play overseas in friendlies are vital in strengthening the Azkals.

“This year, we played against Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong,” he noted. “We also played against clubs in Taiwan and Thailand. International exposure is important to stabilize our match experience. Playing against stronger opponents must be scheduled properly to reach our objective in 2012.”

Caslib said retaining McMenemy, team manager Dan Palami and the core of the Azkals is a priority.

“We hope Mr. Palami stays and manages the Azkals,” continued Caslib. “He showed great respect with the technical side under McMenemy’s leadership. He allowed the coach to make decisions in the preparation, selection of players and approach to the competition. We must keep the team but strengthen it. The Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in March is coming and we play Mongolia. We will host the first match and we must prepare our stadium and support our team. We should allow our players to play their strong side and protect them in training by not exposing them to all the problems we encountered this year.”

Caslib said support for the Azkals must be widespread to move the team forward. “We should encourage partnership with companies that believe in football,” he said. “Local government units must be involved in grassroots development in order to continuously produce youth players for the national team.”


UFL promises bigger tournaments next year

by Cedelf P. Tupas

MANILA—The United Football League is hoping to ride on the success of the national team in the AFF Suzuki Cup, promising improved League and Cup tournaments next year.

Majority of the members of the Azkals are plying their trade in the UFL and organizers hope that the sudden rise of popularity of the sport will also translate to more support in the league.

“This is the only regular league in the country now and we hope more fans will come and watch after the Azkals’ run,” said UFL’s Javier Montecon, who is also a marketing executive of courier firm LBC, the chief backer of the league.

Azkals skipper Aly Borromeo plays for Global-Smartmatic, together with national players David Basa, Kim Relucio and Jerry Barbaso.

Strikers Ian Araneta and Yanti Barsales and midfielders Chieffy Caligdong, Mark Ferrer, Peter Jaugan and defenders Joebel Bermejo and Reymark Palmes are members of Air Force Rider, which captured the league crown last season.

The UFL-LBC Cup resumes Jan. 9 with quarterfinal matches set at the Alabang Country Club.


Azkals seek German shepherding

by Cedelf P. Tupas

MANILA—The national football team is seeking the guidance of the German Football Association (DFB) in an effort to strengthen the squad, which faces a busy year ahead.

Team manager Dan Palami is flying to Frankfurt on Jan. 3 to meet with German football officials and discuss areas of cooperation between the national team and the DFB.

“We will have exploratory talks on how the DFB can help our team,” Palami said.

Palami said he will try to look into the DFB database and search for quality players that have Filipino lineage.

The Azkals had two Filipino-German players who were part of the squad in the AFF Suzuki Cup, where they reached the semifinals for the first time.

Munich-based Manny Ott started in all three games in the AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifying Tournament in Laos, while Mark Drinkuth was part of the squad in the group stage in Vietnam. Both players did not join the team for the semifinals with Ott tied up because of academic commitments.

Palami said part of his initial itinerary was to meet with Filipino-German pros-pect Stephan Schrock to help him process his papers, but he ditched the plan because of the recent weather disturbance in Europe that could make it difficult for them to travel.

The best option for Schrock is to send his documents to Manila for his passport to be processed in time for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying match against Mongolia on Feb. 9 in Bacolod City, Palami said.

The 24-year-old Schrock, who plays right fullback for Geuther Furth, has been regarded as an important player for next year’s campaign.

“He is one of the players we see that can really make an impact for the team because of his experience,” said Palami.

Schrock is set to join Greuther Furth in a training camp in Turkey next month, before joining the national team for the Challenge Cup.

If the Azkals hurdle Mongolia, they will join a group composed of Palestine, Myanmar and host Bangladesh that will play in Chittagong from March 20 to 31.

The Azkals are also seeing action in the qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup.


29 December 2010

Will PFF mess clear up?

By Joaquin Henson

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Monico Puentevella said yesterday he will not vote in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) elections in Qatar on Jan. 6 because the right is reserved for Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano Araneta Jr.

Puentevella and PFF secretary-general Chito Manuel will attend the AFC Congress with Araneta as members of the official Philippine delegation.

AFC president Mohamed Bin Hamman earlier questioned Puentevella’s designation as the country’s only delegate to the Congress. Hamman’s presumption is that since Puentevella is the only delegate, he will vote for the PFF in the elections.

Puentevella clarified that in the PFF registration form submitted to the AFC, it was clearly marked that Araneta would cast the Philippine vote.

“My role is merely to legitimize the position and election of Araneta just in case questions are raised in Qatar,” said Puentevella. “It’s the same role I played in the SBP case. The POC Board, in particular president Peping (Cojuangco), mandated me to look into both cases. It was the same job.”

Puentevella attended the Nov. 27 PFF National Congress where Araneta was elected to serve as president until Nov. 26, 2011, or the unexpired term of Jose Mari Martinez. “I witnessed the proceedings,” said Puentevella. “I saw 26 voters go against Martinez in his face. The motion to remove Martinez was in order. I really don’t understand why Martinez is insisting on staying as president.”

Puentevella said Hammam’s intervention to rescue Martinez is something he also can’t understand.

“Hammam is running unopposed so as far as the AFC presidency is concerned, the election is over,” said Puentevella. “I don’t know why he’s singling out the Philippines. We’re just a small country trying to develop football. Maybe, it’s because he is assured of Martinez’ vote with regard to the other positions.

For instance, I was informed that Hammam is supporting a South Korean for vice president against a candidate from Jordan. Hammam and I are good friends. No matter what happens, I will always be his friend and I respect him for what he is. His secretary Jenny recently tried to contact me but Hamman never got through.”

More : Philstar.com

UFL - Green Archers United

Green Archers United will be open for tryouts starting January 5 (Wednesday) around 7-9 PM at the Cuenca Field in Alabang.

Green Archers will be playing in United Football League

source : sugud.com

Malaysia win AFF Suzuki Cup

Malaysia lost 1-2 away to Indonesia but won AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 with 4-2 aggregate.

28 December 2010

Azkals hold free football training in Tacloban

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine national football team, also called the "Azkals," offered free football training to youngsters in Tacloban City – the place where the Filipino booters trained for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup early December.

During their football clinic, the young football players of Tacloban were very much enthusiastic. Other young fans enjoyed watching their football heroes from the sidelines.

"This is our way of saying thank you sa Tacloban because they have been instrumental to the preparation of the Azkals," said Dan Palami, the Azkals' team manager.

Siblings Phil and James Younghusband, who were not present during the morning session, arrived later in the day to join the team-sponsored training .

The Younghusbands themselves have launched their own football clinic in Manila for young people interested in the sport.

"The Younghusband Football Academy [is] where we go to public schools and we teach the PE [Physical Education] teachers to teach the kids," Phil said.

"For free, we got to teach some kids," James added.

They said that this is their way to promote football in the Philippines.

Meantime, the Azkals are gearing up for a World Cup 2011 qualifier and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup on February to be held in Bacolod City. – Report by Jenette Ruedas, ABS-CBN News Tacloban


FIFA, AFC to look into mess

By Abac Cordero

MANILA, Philippines - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the world’s governing body in the sport, the Federation Internationale de Football Association or FIFA, are bringing in legal officers to Manila to look deeper into the mess within the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).

Once they arrive, the AFC and FIFA officers will first sit down with Jose Mari Martinez, the deposed PFF president, before hearing Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, who took over Martinez as the head of Philippine football.

Martinez recently came under fire due to allegations that he had mishandled the PFF funds under his tenure, leading the heads of 26 of the 33 football associations nationwide to vote for his ouster.

The FIFA recently gave its blessings on Araneta as the rightful PFF head, saying that Martinez’ ouster was done accordingly.

The FIFA also said it will soon perform a complete audit of the PFF funds, probably in a bid to uncover any irregularity if there is such.

Martinez, according to source, yesterday filed a TRO (temporary restraining order) that would stop Araneta from performing the duties as PFF president.

It was also reported that Martinez is considering filing a case before the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) in Switzerland.

Going to the CAS will be a very costly move, but Martinez apparently has the backing of the Mohamed Bin Hammam, the rich and powerful AFC president from Qatar.

The TRO was filed before the Pasig Regional Trial Court by Martinez’ lawyer yesterday, and should be raffled off this week.

Araneta is in Jakarta attending the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Council meeting.

Araneta said he’s unaware of Martinez’ move.

“He filed a TRO? A TRO for what? I’m not aware of that,” he said in a phone call from Jakarta.

Araneta said he would make communications with the AFF and FIFA as soon as possible to inquire about their plan to send legal officers to Manila.


Fifa sets audit of PFF subsidy

Cedelf P. Tupas

The International Football Federation (Fifa) will conduct an audit on its $250,000 subsidy to the Philippine Football Federation, which underwent a leadership change recently.

The audit will be conducted by KPMG Fides Peat from Zurich, Switzerland, Fifa assistant general secretary Marcus Kattner told PFF general secretary Ramon Manuel in a letter.

Fifa releases $250,000 (about P11 million) annually to developing football nations under its Financial Assistance Program. But 2010 being a World Cup year, the PFF received an extra $125,000 (P5.5 million) with another $125,000 to be disbursed soon.

Kattner did not say whether the audit was prompted by allegations of fund misuse, illegal disbursements and the failure to return of funds by former PFF president Jose Mari Martinez.

PFF president Mariano “Nonong” Araneta said it marked the first time Fifa had initiated an audit on the federation.

“I believe the audit is random and we were just chosen this year,” said Araneta, who got an overwhelming vote to replace Martinez during the PFF Congress, an election that was validated by Fifa.

The PFF usually sends its annual audit report conducted by a local firm to Fifa.

Upon the request of its Board of Governors, the PFF had actually conducted an audit from September 2009 to June 2010 that revealed that P3.4 million of funds were unaccounted for.

The PFF also receives subsidy from the Asian Football Confederation and Asean Football Federation. The country’s national team, however, issued a statement that it hadn’t received a single centavo from the PFF for its participation in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The national team, fondly called Azkals, made history by reaching the meet’s semifinals for the firts time, triggering a rare upsurge of football interest in the country.

Martinez, who has remained defiant despite Fifa’s decision to recognize Araneta, had earlier denied misappropriating funds during his term.

But his removal was actually an offshoot of his failure to return of the P2.8 million from PFF coffers and suspected illegal disbursements and allegedly falsifying documents that allowed businessman Henry Tsai to be one of the signatories of the PFF account.

Martinez said his only mistake was trusting Tsai, whom he had broken ties with because of Tsai’s failure to deliver commitments to the federation.

Meanwhile, Araneta said he will attend the AFF Council Meeting in Jakarta today in his first official function as PFF president.

Araneta will focus on mapping out a realistic football program for the country.

“We have a great opportunity to uplift football in the country,” said Araneta.


26 December 2010

4th Asian Beach Games in 2013 awarded to Philippines

THE Philippines was awarded the hosting rights of the 4th Asian Beach Games in 2013 and Cebu is eyed as one of the possible venues of the games.

Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC) head Edward Hayco said they are open to taking the lead should Cebu be considered as the main hub of the multi-sporting meet.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Olympic Council of Asia will be making their rounds to inspect the possible venues next month. The other provinces that are being eyed are Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor. Also aggressive in their intention to host are Camarines Sur, Bataan, Zambales and Siargao.

Sun Star Cebu

Comment : Beach soccer (football) are one of the sports in Asian Beach Games

AFF Suzuki Cup - Malaysia win first match

Malaysia won 3-0 in first match of AFF Suzuki Cup finals.

Azkals in Tacloban City, Leyte

The Azkals will be in Tacloban City, Leyte on the 27th and 28 of December .

They will be at The Paskorayhak Tournament , Bethel International School.

Source : Leyte FA

24 December 2010

Ex-PFF prexy strikes back at FIFA for favoring his ouster

MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Jose Mari Martinez struck back at the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for favoring his ouster from his post.

In a letter addressed to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, Martinez said the world’s football governing body has came out with a one sided decision regarding the dispute embroiling the PFF leadership.

“I absolutely cannot accept your one sided, unfair and unjust decision which reeks of impartiality. Your decision was/is based on loose and questionable evidence,” the embattled PFF official said in his letter.

FIFA, , also known as the International Federation of Association Football, earlier acknowledged the removal of Martinez from PFF presidency, citing that the move was made according to PFF statutes.

Last November, the PFF Congress voted to remove and replace Martinez "due to unauthorized disbursement of PFF funds, falsification of public documents, and failure to return missing funds before a set deadline."

The resolution to have Martinez removed was voted by 26 of the 33 total PFF congress members.

However, Martinez claimed that most of those members who voted against him should have not been given the chance to elect a new PFF president.

"Those who voted are not members of good standing as all their documents (SEC registration) are either incomplete, non existent plus whose status are in arrears,” he said.

He added that his impeachment was not included in the agenda of the PFF's 7th Ordinary Congress on Nov. 27, 2010 when he was removed from his post.

In issuing such ruling, Martinez said FIFA has effectively violated its own directive last Dec. 3, calling for status quo and convening of a special PFF congress after 90 days.

Martinez said he will file a case with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn FIFA's decision.

Martinez also challenged FIFA to send a representative to Manila to conduct an impartial investigation on the leadership squabble.

The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF), meanwhile, sided with Martinez regarding the issue.

In a letter sent to Valcke, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed bin Hammam said he will join Martinez in challenging FIFA's decision at the CAS.

"The action taken by FIFA is a clear indication of your intention to interfere with the AFC coming elections. The same way you did in our Congress in 2009 and I will not tolerate such interference," said Hammam.


Check also Cebu football

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Wishing all my readers Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !


23 December 2010


This is Rick Figueiredo. My name has been mentioned in connection several times with replacing Simon McMenemy. A few things should be cleared at this point.Back in August, before Desmond Bulpin even became coach I contacted Mari Martinez about becoming the Philippines Head Coach. I had two reasons forwanting to become involved in this endeavour. The first is that through fortunate circumstances, I have been part of a number of highly successful coaching staffs including going to the World Cup in 1998 with Jamaica, and I thought that this experience would be a positive influence on the Philippine team and program. The second point is that from 1962 through 1969 I lived inthe Philippines and went to school there at Ateneo and also at the American School. So it seemed like a positive thing for all of us. The fact that the country ranked very low in this sport also intrigued me. Itwas an opportunity to put the country on the map. Pure and simple. There vere no alterior motives. Unfortunately, in August the PFF and I were unable to come to a financial compensation package that worked for both sides. I have expenses in the USA that I needed to cover and could not afford for my family and myself to put myself in a financially disadvantages position. We continued to work onthis and in October I came to the Philippines to present myself in person, for a possible future position. My strengths are honesty and integrity and I am an exceptional motivator, and I believe that these characteristics and my longterm vision proved to be significant to those I met. Understand that at no time was it my intention to replace Simon and that I fully support his retention ashead coach of the team and have throughout the Suzuki Cup. He has done a magnificient job with the team along with Dan Palami and should be rewarded with an extension. I also believe that Mari Martinez has made his ownc ontribution to this process and regardless of the ending to his story, we needto give him some credit. This is not to say that I am not still interested inthe position. I am, however, far more interested in being Technical Director ofthe entire Philippine National Program. My time perhaps will come. My vision back in August of 2010 was to take the Philippines to the World Cup. This was my vision in 1997 with Jamaica and while working with Brasil during the 1994 World Cup I came to understand the blueprint necessary to do it again for the Philippines. But for now I return to my own futebol endeavours. I have manyvery good causes which I dedicate my time to, including training young childrenas I believe they are the ones who will change the future for the better. I feel for Mari Martinez because I have met him and liked him and will not deny this because he has fallen, but I have no desire to get involved in his political situations because I am a futebol coach and not a politician or a businessman.I wish him well as a person. If he has done wrong I believe we should forgive him. I have spoken to him briefly about this. I advised Mari during the crisis that he should accept those who oppose him and bring them into the decision circle so that an amicable solution could be found. After all, we all work notfor ourselves alone. We all work for the the greater cause of growth and improvement of the Philippines. It is our mission to bring joy and hope to themillions of Filipino people. There is no more gratifying reward as I learned from the Jamaicans after we qualified for the World Cup. I would walk the streets and celebrate with the fans. Moments that have defined my purpose inlife. It is not all so complicated. Perhaps one day I will be honered and invited to come back to a country that I love, to offer my services and experience. For now it is clear that we must put these dreams and visions onthe shelf. Simon McMenemy is your coach and should remain your coach until hisrun is over. That is the fair thing to do. The right thing to do! I wish all well and thank you for this brief moment to express my thoughts to your readers. RICK FIGUEIREDO - brasil@rickfigueiredo.com

Changes up in Azkal cast

By Abac Cordero

MANILA, Philippines – There may be changes coming up in the composition of the Philippine football team that’s coming off a Cinderella run in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup.

“There will be changes but the core of the team will remain,” said team manager Dan Palami following the Azkals’ aborted run to reach the finals of the tournament.

Palami said even coach British Simon McMenemy will be evaluated, as well as the players, including the seven Fil-foreigners and the bunch of locals.

“I think the core of the team will be there. We just need to add a few options, more especially in offense. It should allow Phil (Younghusband) and rest of the guys to attack more,” he said.

The Azkals made the country proud, and their opposition take a more serious look at them following an impressive showing that included draws against Singapore and Myanmar and a big 2-0 win over Vietnam.

Against the mighty Indonesians, the Azkals dropped identical 1-0 defeats when there were chances of winning or at least salvaging a draw.

“We still need to improve. It’s not just the coach but all of the players will be evaluated. And from there we will know what steps to take,” said Palami.

But it doesn’t mean that he’s disappointed with the outcome. Certainly not.

“It was a good run for the Philippines. We weren’t expected to reach this level. And now that we know what we can achieve, the next tournament will be more exciting for us. A lot of players will be coming in as well. We can make some changes to make sure we have more options

“We can look forward to a better team in the coming years,” he said, adding that this early, the Azkals are getting invitations to play in other countries, including one in Vietnam.

A couple of players, including star goalie Neil Etheridge, team captain Aly Borromeo and youthful Jason De Jong, are being offered playing contracts in Indonesia.

Franco Lorenzo, one of the team officials, said the offers actually came on the eve of the match, but they kept the players within safe distance because they weren’t really sure what it was all about.

“It was on the eve of the biggest match of our lives and we don’t know what kind of offers were to be made,” said the official.

McMenemy is also facing offers to coach other teams, like Vietnam, Indonesia and Australia, but said he’d rather stay with the Azkals.

Whatever, Palami said he’s looking forward to a busy year for the Azkals.

“Now everybody knows we can play decent football,” he said.


Phl feat in SI top 10 football stories

by Joey Villar

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ astounding upset victory over dethroned champion Vietnam in the Asean Football Federation’s Suzuki Cup generated interest not just in the Asean and Asian regions but also the rest of the world.

Sports Illustrated, the highly popular US-based sports magazine and website, included the Filipino booters’ stirring 2-0 triumph over the heavily-favored Vietnamese in the group stages of the Suzuki Cup in its Top 10 soccer stories for the year about to end.

Written by Georgina Turner, the story described the Azkals’ win right on the Vietnamese turf as “the biggest upset in the history of the Suzuki Cup considering that RP is ranked a far 151st in the world by FIFA and that the Filipinos had never scored a goal against the Vietnamese in the last two decades.”

“The Asean Football Federation’s biennial Suzuki Cup might not be too high up on your list of priorities, but this year’s tournament produced arguably the biggest upset in its history: Defending champion and federation powerhouse Vietnam lost 2-0 to the Philippines, ranked 151st in the world and without so much as a point off Vietnam in nearly 20 years,” she wrote.

Turner also mentioned the unsportsmanlike gesture of Vietnam’s Portuguese coach Henrique Calisto towards RP’s British mentor Simon McMenemy at the end of the masterful triumph.

Vice President Jejomar Binay’s name was also mentioned in the story for reportedly promising to come up with an honest-to-goodness national battle plan in the Nationals’ future campaigns, including a crack at a chance to play in the 2014 World Cup.

“Accusing the Azkals of parking the bus, Vietnamese coach Henrique Calisto refused to shake his opposite number’s hand after that match,” said Turner.

“Simon McMenemy was upset by the gesture but wouldn’t be drawn into a slanging match after the result that prompted the country’s vice president, Jejomar Binay, to promise a national training program,” she added.


Game 2 of Philippine Azkals vs Indonesians rated well on TV—report

By Ronnie Nathanielsz
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The second football game of the Suzuki Cup semifinals between the Philippines and Indonesia, which went almost head to head with the San Miguel Beer-Air 21 quarterfinal game over RPN 9 on December 19 rated significantly higher.

However, the game of crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra versus Alaska on February 17 topped the ratings with a higher average of 5.7 percent in Mega Manila, 5.9 in Metro Manila, and 5.5 percent in the suburbs.

Although comparatively low ratings in Mindanao brought down the national average, the Ginebra-Alaska game still topped the football match with a 4.7 average.

The football match was telecast “live” on Studio 23 while the PBA games were aired on Solar TV-RPN 9.

The Philippines-Indonesia 2 rated 3.7 percent nationally while the pro league’s San Miguel-Air 21 game rated 2.7.

In the breakdown of the ratings, the football match rated 3.8 percent as against 3.3 for basketball in Mega Manila. In Metro Manila, football outrated basketball 4.2 against 3.7.

In the suburbs, the Philippines-Indonesia game rated 3.1 as against 2.9 for the San Miguel–Air 21 showdown. In Northern Luzon, the gap was much wider with football garnering a 3.5 rating and basketball 1.3 percent.

In the Visayas region, which is regarded as a hotbed of football, Game 2 of the Philippines-Indonesia semifinals rated double that of the SMB-Air 21 game, 5.4 to 2.7 percent.

In Mindanao, football also was way ahead, rating 5.3 percent to 2.8 for the PBA game.

The first game ratings of the PBA quarterfinals between Talk N’ Text and Rain or Shine was considerably lower than the ratings for football with a national rating of 1.5 percent compared with football’s 3.7.

The resurgence of public interest in football was anchored on the success of the national team given the monicker Azkals after they held three-time Suzuki Cup champion Singapore to a 1-1 draw and stunned defending champion Vietnam, 2-0.

New PFF prexy to prioritize Azkals training

NOW that he is finally recognized by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) as the new president of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), Mariano “Nonong” Araneta Jr. said he is prioritizing the training of the Philippine Azkals so the team could join more international tournaments.

After reaching a historic semifinals of the AFF (Asian Football Federation) Suzuki Cup, the Azkals will next see action in Mongolia on Feb. 9 and 16 with more tournaments lined up for the Pinoys including the World Cup qualifiers and the Southeast Asian Games.

However, unlike his predecessor Jose Mari Martinez, Araneta will also focus on the grassroots development including the holding of national tournaments next year for the U19 men’s and U16 women’s.

“Aside from prioritizing the Azkals, we are also planning to hold a national tournament for the U19 men’s and U16 women’s either in April or May. Qualifying will be held in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and we might also be holding a selection then form the national team,” Araneta said.

Araneta also plans to adopt a grassroots development being worked in Iloilo wherein the Iloilo Football Association of which he is also president teams up with the Department of Education (DepEd) in promoting football in the public schools.

“The plan is to incorporate football in physical education (PE) classes, have them play five times a week for an hour while the FA provides the technical know-how,” Araneta explained.

He added that once the Iloilo FA signs a memorandum of agreement with DepEd then he would bring the program to other areas in the country.

As for the funding, Araneta said that he will be tapping the private sectors to help.

Another project that Araneta plans to continue is the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Vision Asia project which was started in Cebu City early this year.

“We are going to send documents to AFC and show them that we have actually started the project so that they could continue sending us the funds. They already sent money to the PFF but we do not know what happened to it,” Araneta said, adding that he will continue to recover the funds allegedly squandered by Martinez.

“We are consulting with the lawyer on what cases to file against Martinez to recover the P2.8 million. We suspect that there are still more unaccounted funds; the P2.8M was only the investments made by Martinez without the approval of the PFF board,” Araneta said.

Araneta was voted to replace Martinez last Nov. 27 during the PFF National Congress after the Board of Governors in a series of meetings adopted a motion to remove Martinez from office when he failed to explain and show documents on what happened to the P2.8M.

However, early this month, Araneta was surprised when Fifa sent a letter stating that they are still recognizing Martinez as the PFF president because they are not sure if Martinez’s ouster was in accordance with the PFF statutes and by-laws.

Fifa, however, went back on its word and in a three-page letter, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said “the FIFA, backed by the opinion of FIFA vice president Geoff Thompson, validated the election of Araneta, who replaced Mari Martinez.”

Araneta said Martinez could still appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) but that as far as Fifa is concerned the matter is already closed. /CORRESPONDENT MARS G. ALISON

Cebu Daily News

UFL - Quarterfinals draw

Global Smartmatic, one of the teams that underwent a roster upgrade during the off-season, has been drawn with newcomer Stallions in the quarterfinals of the UFL-LBC Cup.

The Global-Stallions duel emerged as the marquee showdown of the last eight after the draw attended by coaches, owners and managers held Wednesday night at the Makati Sports Club.

The draw also resulted in a duel between last year’s league champion Air Force and Group C No. 2 Navy, Army against Nomads and unbeaten Union versus ManilaSudanese Club.

The quarterfinals will begin Jan. 9.

MSC was the last team to reach the quarterfinals after beating a short-handed Air Force side, 3-2, last Dec. 19.

The Airmen had little to play for having advanced as the top seed in the group after two straight victories over Pasargad and Laos.

Air Force also missed almost half of its roster, including strikers Ian Araneta and Yanti Barsales and winger Chieffy Caligdong who were playing for the national team in theAFF Suzuki Cup semifinals.

MSC was a long shot to reach the quarterfinals with just a point to show in their first two matches. But they made the most of their chances against Air Force and nipped Pasargad on goal difference to reach the knockout stage.

The Stallions boast of former national players from Iloilo, including the fleet-footed Jovanie Simpron, who has tormented teams with his pace.

It will be interesting how Global, with its beefed-up side, handles a Stallion squad teeming with talent and experience.

Philippine team skipper Aly Borromeo will lead Global, along with Misagh Bahadoran, Badrelin El-Habbib and Izzeldin El-Habbib, who emerged as the league’s top scorer last season.

Army will be in for a tough battle against Nomads, who, like MSC, made the quarterfinals after winning their last game.

In Roel Gener and Nestorio Margarse, the Armymen have a wealth of experience at midfield.

But Nomads have shown a knack for scoring when needed especially in crucial matches.

Air Force has been widely tipped to repeat its league success this season, despite the roster revamp undergone by Global and Union.

With half of its roster training with the national team, the Airmen have players who are in shape and with loads of international experience. Striker Ian Araneta, for example, started all five games for the country in the Suzuki Cup.

Navy has been considered the weakest among the teams from the Armed Forces, but could cause Air Force problems with its attack line led by Reydric Viliran.

Navy finished sixth in the league last season in a campaign highlighted by a two-game sweep of rival Army.

With an infusion of fresh talent that has combined well with some of the finest African recruits playing in the league, Union had become the latest force in the league.

Its come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Global have boosted their stock considerably. But Union proved that victory was no fluke by sweeping all of their Group D assignments.

UFL Website


The LBC UFL Cup Quarter- Final Draw has been made:

Sunday 9-Jan 1300 Army vs. Nomads Alabang Country Club (ACC)-A
1300 Air Force vs. Navy ACC - B
1500 Stallions vs. Global ACC - A
1500 Union vs. Manila Sudanese ACC

Football finally outrates PBA

by Ronnie Nathanielsz

We were pleasantly surprised and pleased at the television ratings of the first match in the Suzuki Cup semifinals between the Philippines and Indonesia staged in the 80,000-seat Bung Karno Stadium, which was built in 1960 and is the 9th biggest football stadium in the world.
ABS-CBN’s top honcho Gabby Lopez had earlier instructed vice president for sports Peter Musngi to somehow get the Philippine games for telecast on Studio 23 after realizing the potential of the sport and the newfound public interest in it.
The interest was stirred, no doubt, by the quality with which we played the game and the roster of good-looking young men who donned the country’s jersey in the tournament.
If the results of the telecast of Game 1 is any criteria, then Lopez certainly made the right decision. But that would clearly never be enough. It cannot be a one-shot deal.
ABS-CBN, or any other TV network for that matter, needs to follow through on what has been an initial breakthrough.
The sport needs a well thought-out and sustained program to build on the gains achieved in the Suzuki Cup, while at the same time shunning the internal struggles and debilitating politics of Philippine sport.
Indeed, a powerful TV network’s involvement and its persuasive influence in football is likely to help remove politics from the sport and allow it to grow because it is indeed in the service of the Filipino.
* * *
The ratings should also open the eyes of the members of the PBA board to the harsh reality that the pro cage league is not the attractive proposition it used to be—although teams like Ginebra, B-Meg Derby Ace (Purefoods to many) and San Miguel Beer continue to draw fans to the venue.
Overall, however, the PBA board must realize that they don’t have a product that networks and advertisers will chase, like they used to at a time when Vintage Enterprises’ Carlos “Bobong” Velez lifted the PBA telecast to unequalled heights over a long period of time behind a total dedication to producing a top-class coverage.
The board also needs to appreciate the TV medium as it is today and not be swayed by unsubstantiated if not unintelligent claims that a UHF Channel like Studio 23 cannot match the reach or the audiences of a free TV channel like RPN 9.
That misconception, and a little additional money in terms of a franchise fee, saw the PBA board—which had first indicated it would go with ABS-CBN—turn around and award the coverage rights to Solar Sports.
* * *
The ratings of the football match last Thursday were, according to Musngi, “amazing.”
Imagine. The RP-Indonesia match on Studio 23 outrated the PBA games the previous day.
The PBA first game rated 1.0 percent and Game 2, 1.7 percent in Mindanao while football rated 1.8 percent.
In the Visayas, the PBA rated 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent while the football match rated 4.4 percent.
In Mega Manila the PBA rated 1.4 percent and 2.6 percent while football rated 3.0 percent.
Finally, in the suburbs the PBA rated 1.6 percent and 3.5 percent in the triple-overtime game between Meralco and Rain or Shine while football basically on the main game timeslot rated 4.0 percent.
Figures tell the story.
It may not be the whole picture but it certainly indicates that football has an exciting future. And if PBA basketball is to revive the glory days, the board itself and the teams must imbibe the dynamism of league commissioner Chito Salud, whose grasp of the nuances and commitment to excellence will surely help pave the way for a turnaround.
Time is of the essence.


22 December 2010

PFF bats for SEA Games comeback

By Joaquin Henson

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Football Federation (PFF) president Mariano Araneta Jr. said yesterday the national team is definitely playing in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia, on Nov. 11-25 but the lineup will be radically different from the cast that went to the semifinals of the recent Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

The age limit for men’s football in the SEA Games has been 23 since 2001 with the Philippines participating in only one of the last five stagings. The last time the Philippines played football in the SEA Games was in 2005 when the national team failed to qualify for the semifinals, losing twice (Thailand, 1-0, Malaysia, 4-2) and winning once (Cambodia, 4-2) in the preliminaries at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City. The closest the Philippines came to claiming a football medal in the biennial event was in 1991 when the nationals lost a 2-0 decision to Singapore in the playoff for bronze.

In the recent Suzuki Cup, only six players will be under 23 when the next SEA Games begin – goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, 20, fullback David Basa, 21, midfielder Mark Ferrer, 21, midfielder Jason de Jong, 20, midfielder Mark Drinkuth, 19 and goalkeeper Christopher Camcam, 16. That means the Younghusband brothers, Chris Greatwich, Aly Borromeo, Ian Araneta, Ray Jonsson and Anton del Rosario will not be eligible.

“Of course, we have to play in the SEA Games,” said Araneta, voted unanimously to serve deposed PFF president Jose Mari Martinez’ last year in his term during the National Congress last Nov. 27. “I’ve asked our team manager Dan Palami to inquire if we might be able to enlist a few exceptions for the SEA Games. Meanwhile, we will prepare for the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Challenge Cup. We will host the first of two games against Mongolia on Feb. 9. If Mongolia agrees, we will host both games in the Philippines.”

Araneta referred to the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers where the Philippines will battle Mongolia in a home-and-away series similar to the Suzuki Cup semifinal and final formats. The first match will likely be held at the Panaad Stadium. If the Philippines overcomes Mongolia, it will move on to face Myanmar on March 21, Palestine on March 23 and Bangladesh on March 25 in the Challenge Cup stepladder to determine teams to play in the prestigious AFC Asia Cup. The AFC Challenge Cup will not impose age limits on players.

Araneta said the coming year will also start the zonal World Cup qualifiers.

Former national coach Juan Cutillas said to ride the momentum of the Azkals’ semifinal finish in the Suzuki Cup, the team must recruit bigger, stronger and younger local players.

“We have to abandon the policy of using Armed Forces players just because they are available,” he said. “It was embarrassing to see (some of) our local players (between) 34 and 37 standing no more than 5-4. It is a must to select a squad of the best preferable young players in the country and train them on a full-time basis, provide them with all they need, such as accommodations
, education and allowances, arrange for training abroad for periods of time. That will be the basis of a strong national team.”

Cutillas said the team has to beef up its midfield line. “We have to get better staff in the middle field,” he pointed out. “To improve our game, we need to put up a really strong local competition. A lot of credit goes to the whole Philippine delegation.”

Araneta also noted the crucial role of the midfielders. “The midfielders have to give more support to our two strikers consistently,” he said. “We have shown that if we commit more players in offense, we can create chances to score goals.”

Negros Occidental Football Association president Charlie Cojuangco said the semifinals showed that the Azkals need to work on match fitness. Cojuangco also stressed the importance of establishing a world-class facility and hoped the Suzuki Cup fever won’t die down to leave football unnoticed in media again.

AFF vice president and former PFF president Johnny Romualdez said the key to improve lies in building a deep bench. “We need a young team with a good future,” he said. “I don’t favor more than seven Fil-foreigners. Our grassroots program since 1998 should now begin to provide more locals. We should also continue to recruit top Fil-foreigners.”

PFF technical director and former national coach Aris Caslib said it is critical that Palami and national coach Simon McMenemy stay on the job.

“We pray that Palami stays to manage the national team until 2012,” said Caslib. “The best thing about Palami’s management style is he fully understands the support a national team needs. He showed great respect with the technical side under McMenemy’s leadership. He allowed the coach to make decisions in the preparation, selection of players and approach to the competition.”

As for McMenemy, Caslib said the PFF should try to convince the Briton to continue coaching the Azkals at least until 2012 for the next Suzuki Cup.

“We also need to strengthen the coaching staff by providing a goalkeeper coach,” added Caslib. “Although Neil is attached with Fulham FC, he still needs somebody whom he can talk with at the same time, train other goalkeepers of the national team. We need a scouting coach to check opponents and provide inputs during a game. A conditioning coach should also be considered. We typically enjoy a height advantage in the Suzuki Cup but strength and speed are worth developing. The coaching staff must be encouraged to continuously go for higher studies or licensing in order to enhance their approach to training and matches, managing players, scouting talent and studying opponents.”


21 December 2010

Philippine Azkals set sights on 2014 World Cup

By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine football team will see action in three major tournaments in 2011, including the qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil which the country is joining for the first time in more than a decade.

The Azkals resume their campaign in February when they clash with Mongolia in a home-and-away tie in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifier.

The home game will most likely be held at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod on Feb. 9, but the Philippine Football Federation is also pushing to have the away game at Panaad because of the cold weather in Mongolia.

Also lined up is the qualifying event for the 2014 World Cup and the Southeast Asian Games in December in Indonesia.

The SEA Games is an Under-23 event and only six players from the senior team, including goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and Jason de Jong, will be eligible for the tournament.

Given little chance because of their poor results in the past, the Azkals emerged as the surprise package of the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, reaching the semifinals where they bowed to Indonesia.


Araneta gets FIFA recognition

MANILA, Philippines — The International Football Federation (FIFA) on Tuesday gave its full recognition to the presidency of Mariano “Nonong” Araneta in the Philippine Football Federation (PFF).

In a three-page letter sent to the association, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said the FIFA, backed by the opinion of FIFA vice president Geoff Thompson, validated the election of Araneta, who replaced Mari Martinez.

“Based on the opinion (of Thompson), we consider that the motion to remove Martinez was accepted and that he has been replaced by Araneta as the new PFF president,” Valcke said in the letter.

Martinez was replaced as head of the association during the PFF national congress held last November 27.

Thompson based his opinion in the existing Article 13.5 of the PFF which states that “only the PFF Congress, by affirmative vote of two thirds of the entire voting membership may remove and replace the PFF president upon the recommendation of the majority of the board of governors.”

“I am satisfied that article 13.5 prevails,” said Thompson, also FIFA’s Chairman of the Association Committee.

“I am therefore in the opinion that the decision of the PFF congress to remove and replace the PFF president was taken according to PFF statues.”

“According to the minutes of the meetings of the (PFF) Board of Governors held on Sep. 29 as well as Oct. 29 which resumed on Nov. 27, the Board of Governors did indeed adopt a motion to remove Martinez from office,” Thompson said in the letter.Araneta was elated with the development.

“We sent all information and the video of the elections and what we did was in accordance to the rules they (FIFA) made an opinion,” Araneta said during the PSA Forum on Tuesday at Shakey's UN Avenue.

Martinez was ousted reportedly due to a number of financial issues, including questionable transfer of funds to former PFF executive vice president Henry Tsai as well as other dubious transactions.

Araneta, who came from the Iloilo Football Association, will hold on the PFF presidency until Nov. 26, 2011 with Ismael Batiles Jr. as the executive vice president.

Martinez, who was elected in 2008 succeeding current PFF chairman emeritus Johnny Romualdez, can appeal his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, according to Araneta.

“He can appeal the case to the CAS but as far as FIFA is concerned, it’s a close matter,” said Araneta, whose first order of business is to recover the association’s budget deficit of about P2.8 million.

The new PFF leadership pledged to continue its full support to the national football team, which mesmerized the country this month with a semifinals finish in the AFF Suzuki Cup.

The PFF, in fact, has lined up several international tourneys for team known also as the Azkals including AFC Challenge Cup against Mongolia on Feb. 9 and 16, the World Cup qualifiers and the Southeast Asian Games.

The Azkals’ recent success, which include a victory over defending champion Vietnam in the group stage, allowed the Philippine team to get media exposures and financial backings, specifically from sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan and Asia Brewery.

“I'm glad that more sponsors are coming and we assured that the money will go properly and be transparent with our governance,” Araneta said.

The Azkals stint ended on Sunday when Indonesia completed their 2-0 win in the semifinals as Cristian Gonzales scored all of the goals made that included a 25-yard strike off keeper Neil Etheridge in the 43rd minute of the second leg.

“When you look back at the roads and the steps we’ve taken to get to where we are, considering the politics, the lack of facilities and infrastructure, the lack of professional players, what we did here was miraculous,” PH coach Simon McMenemy said.

“It was the culmination of a nice run for us,” team manager Dan Palami said. “We didn’t expect us to reach the semis, however, I think the credit goes to the players and we gained a lot of respect as far as being recognized as a good team in football in the region.”

Araneta said they will revive a national tournament, which was last held 2006 and 2007, will be held in late April with the Under-19 men’s and Under-16 women’s tournaments.

Manila Bulletin

FIFA accept new President Araneta !!

FIFA has accepted that PFF President Martinez has been ousted and Mariano Araneta is the new officially President of PFF !

Source : Bleachers' Brew

20 December 2010

UFL - Air Force defeated

Manila Sudanese Club beat Air Force 3-2 in UFL Cup yesterday.

This was last match in group stage.

Standings : UFL website

PH team finds a goal

NOBODY expected the Philippine national men’s football team to reach the semifinals in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, but somehow the Azkals did, and proved all the doubters that the future of Philippine football is bright.

Cebu Football Association president Richard Montayre lauded the Azkals for their amazing run that was unforeseen by many, despite the fact that the squad is out of title contention after being beaten by Indonesia.

“Actually, their performance was unexpected. Basically, it was a good performance, but they could have done more with the support of everybody; one the support of PFF (Philippine Football Federation)and two, the support of the public,” Montayre told Sun.Star Cebu in an interview yesterday.

The Philippines lost to Indonesia, 1-0, in both matches of the semifinal round.

Plenty of room

In spite of the Philippines being eliminated in the semifinal round, Montayre believes that the Azkals could improve with more support from the government and the PFF aside from just team manager Dan Palami, who is financing the team.

“The team still has a lot of room for improvement,” said Montayre. “A lot of people now know that the Philippines is capable of winning against football giants.”


Montayre believes that for the Philippine football to flourish in international competitions, the country should focus on building up the youth in grassroots programs and not only depend on picking up Filipino players outside the country.

“We should start with what we have in the youth and look for talents here,” said Montayre.

He thinks that the PFF should focus on improving the young homegrown talents and also hold a national tournament for men and youth divisions, which hasn’t been done for years since Jose Mari Martinez came into power as PFF president.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 21, 2010.

PH football comes of age


MANILA, Philippines — After riveting the country on its exploits, the Philippine football team hopes to take its Cinderella run in the AFF Suzuki Cup out of the ASEAN fairy tale pages and into the realm of global soccer reality with tough international matches scheduled next year.

Seeking to build momentum following their impressive performance against regional power Vietnam, and even in their twin losses to Indonesia in the semifinals, the Azkals are gearing up for the AFF Challenge Cup on Feb. 9 and 16 against Mongolia with a home game, likely at the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City, slated in one of those dates.

Another possibility is the World Cup qualifiers set near year’s end and the Southeast Asian Games on Nov. 11 in Palembang, Indonesia where an anticipated rematch looms.

Unlike in their semis duel with the Indonesians, the Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City will be the home venue of the Nationals.

Another possibility is the World Cup qualifiers slated later next year and the Southeast Asian Games slated Nov. 11 in Palembang, Indonesia.

Unknown to many, the National booters haven't been in the biennial event since the country hosted it in Bacolod in 2005.

With the support of big companies, including Asia Brewery, the Nationals can expect of best training this time.

But there’s a hitch.

The ongoing leadership crisis in the Philippine Football Federation may hamper the team’s preparation.

While the ousted president Mari Martinez is still being recognized by the world governing body FIFA, majority of the PFF Board have elected Nonong Araneta as the new head.

Martinez is under fire due to some financial issues.

More : Manila Bulletin

Philippines coach, players party in Twitter pics

Pictures of Indonesian actress Rahma Azhari with Philippines national soccer team coach Simon McMenemy have drawn people’s attention on Twitter.

The photos appeared on Rahma’s Twitter account, which was a re-tweet from her friend.

In the photos, Rahma was wearing a blue shirt and standing between two men. McMenemy’s arm was around Rahma in some of the photos.

The pictures were allegedly taken at a nightclub in Jakarta after yesterday’s match. Besides those photos, photos of players from the Philippines, including the Younghusband brothers, with unidentified girls were also circulating on Twitter.

Rahma said she was not dating the coach, “He's just a friend... What a lovely person... Glad to actually met him! Had a great time!” she tweeted.

She also said it was McMenemy in the picture by tweeting, “Yes that’s him... McMenemy feverrr... :))."

Jakarta Post

AFC Challenge Cup - Azkals to host Mongolia in Panaad

After a highly successful 2010 Suzuki Cup stint where the Philippine National Men’s Football Team cracked the semifinals for the first time in the 14-year history of the tournament (only to be waylaid by Indonesia, the top goal-scoring team of the competition), the Azkals break for the holidays before returning to training mid-January for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifiers in a home and away series with Mongolia that kicks off on February 9, 2011 in Panaad, Bacolod City.

“We have written Mongolia about the possibility of hosting the two matches in Panaad,” said Philippine Football Federation President Mariano V. Araneta. “It would be difficult to play in Mongolia at that time of the year because it’s the height of their winter season. We have sent them a letter of request and are waiting for their reply.”

The Azkals will also be competing in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers that begin by mid-next year and the year-ending Southeast Asian Games that will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The groupings for the World Cup qualifiers have yet to be determined by FIFA.

“We will be meeting with the national team management to discuss how we can help them and what needs to be done to bring the team to the next level,” added Araneta who was in Jakarta for the first match of the Suzuki Cup semifinals to lend some support. “Hopefully, what they achieved in Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia which is significantly raising awareness of the sport in the Philippines will continue to rise. We have shown that this is a sport where we can truly be competitive.”

Posted by Rick Olivares

Bleachers' Brew

Comment :

AFC Challenge Cup group stage if Philippines qualify :

21.3.11: Myanmar vs Philippines
23.3.11: Philippines vs Palestine
25.3.11: Bangladesh vs Philippines

Source : Bangladesh FA

Host not confirmed but I expect it will be in Bangladesh

19 December 2010

Indonesia 1 Philippines 0 - Gonzales fires Indonesia into final

Jakarta: Christian Gonzales secured Indonesia's place in the AFF Suzuki Cup final on Sunday, firing in the only goal as his side downed the Philippines 1-0 in the second leg of the semi-finals at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

The Uruguay-born striker netted his tournament-leading third goal just before half-time to complete a 2-0 aggregate win for the Indonesians, which set up a meeting in the final against Malaysia, who eliminated defending champions Vietnam on Saturday.

It will be a clash between two teams that have not previously won the AFF Suzuki Cup with the first leg in Kuala Lumpur on December 26 and the return match in Jakarta three days later.

Philippines coach Simon McMenemy named an unchanged starting line-up for a fourth game in a row but Indonesia coach Alfred Riedl made a change up front as forward Irfan Bachdim was replaced by Yongki Aribowo, who made his first appearance in the tournament.

Roared on by a capacity crowd that included Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Indonesians began in the ascendancy. The first sign of real danger came after 11 minutes when Yongki turned past Philippines skipper Alexander Borromeo in midfield and played the ball through for Gonzalez, who beat the offside trap but failed to get to the ball ahead of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

Although they trailed 1-0 in the tie, the Philippines failed to generate any concerted pressure and were limited to shots from long range in the first half. They failed to get their attempts anywhere near the target with Phil Younghusband, Chris Greatwich and Anton Del Rosario all firing over the crossbar.

The Indonesians started to turn their pressure into decent chances but Gonzales was guilty of flubbing two clear-cut chances midway through the first half. The Uruguay-born forward directed a diving header off a cross by Mohammed Nasuha directly at Etheridge and then failed to make any decent contact when he was found completely unattended in the six-yard box by Muhammad Ridwan's cutback from the right by-line.

Tempers boiled over in the 41st minute when Greatwich appeared to kick out at Ahmad Bustomi while both players were on the ground near the halfway line. It sparked off a scuffle between both sides with Greatwich eventually booked. The resulting free-kick found its way past the entire host Philippines defence to Gonzalez but the striker was unprepared to receive the ball and could only direct it wide of the target.

Gonzales had missed three clear-cut chances but he finally made one count two minutes before the break. His initial shot was blocked by Borromeo but the defender failed to get it clear and the ball broke right back to Gonzales who curled it at the second attempt past Etheridge into the top left corner of the net to become the leading scorer of the tournament with three goals.

Despite holding a two-goal advantage, the Indonesians continued to turn the screw at the beginning of the second half. Five minutes after the break Zulkifly Syukur fired an attempt from 25 metres straight at Etheridge. The goalkeeper knocked it down dangerously in front of himself and appeared to bowl over Yongky as they went for the loose ball. However, Bahraini referee Ali Hasan Abdulnabi decided not to whistle for a penalty.

With little left to lose, the Philippines began to exert greater pressure and nearly pulled a goal back in the 56th minute when Borromeo flicked Del Rosario's throw-in to Phil Younghusband, who guided his attempt over the crossbar.

With 20 minutes left, the ball fell to Del Rosario on the edge of the box. He put his shot on target but it was too close to Markus Harison to cause the goalkeeper any real problems.

The visitors' best opportunities arrived with just 10 minutes to go. Substitute Emelio Caligdong nearly put the ball past Markus after Hamka Hamzah had been caught in possession in his own box. Greatwich then headed wide after Borromeo had flicked on Del Rosario's long throw.

The Philippines' disappointing night was completed three minutes from time when Greatwich was sent off after receiving his second booking for a desperate lunge on Markus.


YouTube : Indonesia - Philippines

AFF Suzuki Cup - Indonesia 1-0 Philippines

AFF Suzuki Cup Semifinal, Second leg

Sunday 19. Dec : Philippines - Indonesia in Jakarta (1 PM CET, 8 PM Philippines)

Video from ABS CBN

Tv : Studio 23 in Philippines from 8 pm to 10 pm and Star Sports

Livestream : www.bet365.com (register) and http://www.mips.tv/channel.php?u=2586

Livescore : www.futbol24.com and www.spbolive.com

Good luck !

RP wants to host 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup

MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippines has already signified its intent to get the rights to host the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Monico Puentevella said the games may be played in Panaad, Bacolod and at another venue if necessary.


18 December 2010

Baguio - Locals still back Azkals despite loss to Indonesia

THERE'S no fretting over the loss of the Philippine Azkals against Asean powerhouse Indonesia in their semis match in the Suzuki Cup of the Asian Football Federation.

Baguio football enthusiasts still see the probable win for the underdog Filipinos who will once again troop to the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.

"Our team was solid at the defensive back line including the goal keeper except for the crucial error which led to the only goal of the game," said Homer Alinsug of the Baguio United Football Club after the 1-0 triumph of Indonesia over Philippines.

Overall, our team showed vast improvement as the tournament wears on and down only by a goal has a chance to still be in the finals," Alinsug said.

Baguio City National High School football coach Aries Bocalan also gave the Filipinos' game thumbs up, saying there is still a probability that the Pinoys would win.

"Their game was great, at first I thought they will hold the Indonesians at the back of their defense and make a counter attack but they went attacking all throughout the game," Bocalan said, adding the country has made big improvement in the international football scene. (Roderick Osis)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 19, 2010.


JAKARTA (Dec 18, 2010) – Philippines have never beaten Indonesia in previous AFF-organised football competitions dating back to 1996. In fact, the Philippines have not beaten Indonesia in other tournaments as well, including the SEA Games. In other words, Philippines will have to rewrite regional football history tomorrow evening at the Gelora Bung Karno if they hope to make the final.

There’s only one problem with that story. Hosts Indonesia themselves are out to create history by winning the AFF Suzuki Cup for the very first time this year. To keep their dreams on track, the Indonesians must first prevail in the two-leg semifinal and knock the Filipinos out tomorrow.

For the record, Indonesia have won all three previous encounters against Philippines in AFF competitions. They won 3-1 (1998), 3-0 (2000) and 13-1 in Jakarta in 2002. The Philippines and Indonesia were in different groups and avoided each other in 2004 and 2006. Then in the 2008 AFF Suzuki Cup, the Philippines failed to make it past the qualifying round.

Two years on, the Philippines have produced a strong side that has already stunned defending champions Vietnam and qualified for their first ever semifinals. They lost the first leg by a solitary Christian Gonzalez goal but coach Simon McMenemy is pleased that his team is still in with a fight.

“We lost because of a mistake but while we wanted to chase the game, we held back. We had one more match to go and could not go chasing the goals in the first game, we could have ended up falling further behind. Their strikers could have torn us apart,” McMenemy said.

He added that the thought process for the second semifinal would be the same but the team would not have to go in search of the goals. The English coach said that his team were all fired up for the match and ditched reports that said his team had fitness problems.

“The boys are in good shape and as you saw in previous matches, they fought to the very end. We have no injuries just some stiffness which is normal. We are prepared for Indonesia. Tomorrow’s match will be the biggest of their careers and you can be sure they will go all the way.”

Indonesian assistant coach Wolfgang Pikal said that the game would be difficult as his team had experienced in the first tie. “We are not playing the Philippines team but a European side. They are 10cm taller, 10kg heavier and stronger than us so it will be difficult for our boys.”


UFL - Army vs Suwon City , Korea

Suwon City FC beat Army 5-2 in a friendly on Thursday in Manila.

Suwon City is Korean National League Champions (level 2).

YouTube : The bus ride to Bung Karno before Game 1

17 December 2010

Cagayan de Oro Futsal - M-Carlo booters rule Futsal tilt

By Lynde Salgados

CAGAYAN de Oro's Monte Carlo booters, virtually forced to inactivity due to the high cost of practice venue in the city, proved that they're still a force to reckon with.

The Monte Carlo Jap, relying on two breakthrough goals by Emiliano Mabalos Jr., beat Marawi, 3-1 to capture the men's open title of the 1st Russel Cup 5-on-5 Futsal football tourney here last Sunday at the Macasandig gym.

Xavier University's senior varsity team, meanwhile, withstood the fierce challenge of the mighty Ladies Football Club (LFC-09), 2-1 to secure the women's open crown.

Powered by the tandem of karatedo queen Ma. Marna Pabillore and former UAAP-UST (University of Santo Tomas) standout Julie Anne Gerona-Popovic, the LFC-09 earlier bested the two other teams from Xavier University to arrange a final showdown with XU's main squad, the JRFC Green.

"Since wala nay mga ensayo after college days, we did not expect to reach the championship round. Happy sab kaayo ko nga nag-champ akong mga Monte Carlo boys," team-playing manager Gerona-Popovic told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.

Held in memory of the late Monte Carlo mainstay Russel "Tugak" Galarrita who died in abroad last December, 2009 due to cardiact arrest, the 5-aside tourney might be held annually in the city under the umbrella of the Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Football Association (CMOFA).

"Memorable nga event kay napukaw pagbalik among interest. Daghan nanga-discourage sukad nga aduna nay mahal nga pulta diha sa atong Pelaez Sports Center," one Monte Carlo player, said.

"Overwhelming kaayo ang response, paid off kaayo ang kahago. Bisan malayo among pamilya kay mag-migrate naman `mi puhon sa Europe, I'll always continue my support to Cagayan de Oro football," added Gerona-Popovic who got married to a Serbian.

For his final game's heroic, Mabalos was adjudged as tournament MVP. While Russel's younger brother RG Galarrita and Julfred Domo got the best defender and best goal keeper awards, respectively.

Completing the Monte Carlo's cast are Macky Yañez, Nicho Palarca, James Sombero, Rolan Cartajena, Jonathan Regusante and second keeper Neil Palarca.

Runner-up MSU-Marawi was made up of Bombet Avenido, Ding Magomnang, Joemar Panganiban, Moloy Baulo, Alma Maongc, Jay-R Mabale, Bobroy Cruz, Bingay Paran and Doy Sarangani.

Comprising the triumphant XU-JRFC Green are distaff MVP Evonnie Urtal, best goal keeper Madeline Veluz, best defender Vanezza Mondero, Julie Cenita, Jancel Jamaca and Joveann Barcena.

Backing up the Popovic-Pabillore pair for the reunited LFC-09 are Carla Samantha Nu¤ez Alabat, Maan Roa, Russel Mendoza, Nyce Jonayon, Bambi Bagayo, Kristine Neri, Margo Laplap and Joanne Abrahano.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 16, 2010.

Cebu Football - Sinulog holds 1st football

WITH the popularity of football in the country skyrocketing because of the recent success of the Philippine national men’s team, the annual Sinulog celebration of Cebu City will hold its first football event.

The Cebu Amateur Football Club (CAFC) with the Sinulog Foundation, Inc. and the Cebu City Government will launch the 1st Sinulog Football Festival on Jan. 8 and 9 at the University of San Carlos-Technology Center football pitch.

The two-day festival will have eight divisions—Players 8, Players 10, Boys 12, Boys 14, Boys 17, Girls 17, Men’s Open and 38-and

We’re expecting local teams (to join the tournament) and limit it to just 100 teams,” said organizer Francis Ramirez, the coach of Abellana National School football squad, a press conference at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

Interested squads may register at the CCSC or contact the CAFC through Ramirez or Frederick Alazas with the following mobile phone numbers—0923-4541353, 0927-7532555 and 09293489009.

CCSC manager Ricky Ballesteros promised that next year’s Sinulog sports events will be much bigger.

“Next year, we will make it bigger with more sports tournaments,” he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 18, 2010.

Day after 1-0 loss to Indonesia: Pinoys take it easy, go out shopping

By Abac Cordero

JAKARTA – Head coach Simon McMenemy is not pushing the panic button.

In fact, the British national who has helped turn the Philippine football team into serious contenders, let his wards loose yesterday, the day after their close 1-0 defeat to Indonesia.

They all went out for lunch at the Philippine Embassy, and from there, after enjoying a very warm welcome from the embassy staff, they dropped by at a nearby mall for some shopping.

Everybody seemed to be in a good mood, with a lot of bantering and singing inside the team bus that took them around town.

It was a total rest day for the Filipino booters, who came close to forcing Indonesia to a draw at least. To some extent, there even came expectations during the match they could have won.

One of the players, though, was not too cool on spending the day off.

“After we got our butts kicked, we’re going out shopping?” he said.

All’s not lost on the Filipinos, however, because they still have another chance in tomorrow’s game, same time, same place, but will have to beat the Indons by two goals to advance to the finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup.

More : Philstar

16 December 2010

YouTube : Indonesia - Philippines

Philippines 0 Indonesia 1 - Gonzales puts Indonesia on top

Jakarta: Christian Gonzales capitalised on a defensive mix-up to give Indonesia a narrow advantage over the Philippines in the first leg of their AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final on Thursday.

The Uruguay-born striker headed the only goal of the game after goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and full-back Ray Jonsson had got in each other's way in the 32nd minute at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.

It proved to be the only real lapse by the Filipino defence who defended heroically throughout the evening. But it was enough to give the Indonesians a precious lead to take into the return match at the same venue on Sunday.

The partisan home crowd of 70,000 created a deafening roar as the game kicked off but the Philippines showed few signs of nerves early on despite the intimidating atmosphere.

Gonzales put a weak shot wide in the opening minute but the first real Indonesian chance only arrived after 10 minutes when Oktovianus Maniani gave the ball to an overlapping Mohammad Nasuha, who cut it back from the left for Gonzales whose close range attempt went straight at Etheridge.

The Philippines were solid defensively in the early stages and created a few chances of their own. On 14 minutes, Phil Younghusband drilled a low shot from the edge of the Indonesian box that goalkeeper Markus Harison turned out for a corner.

Midway through the first half, Phil's elder brother James created a fine opening for himself. He turned brilliantly away from a challenge by Muhammad Ridwan on the left flank and ran unchallenged before unleashing a vicious low swerving shot from 25 metres that Harison did well to parry. Ian Araneta attempted to pounce on the rebound but was flagged for offside

The Philippines competed well for the first half-hour, allowing the Indonesians few real scoring opportunities. But having gone nearly four hours without conceding a goal in the tournament, their composure finally cracked after a fatal defensive mix-up.

There appeared to be little danger when Firman Utina swung in a deep cross from midfield to the right of the Filipino box. But Etheridge and Jonsson got in each other's way and the ball fell nicely for a lurking Gonzales, who placed his header into the unguarded net.

The goal ignited the Indonesian crowd and the home side turned up the pressure for the rest of the half.

The Filipino defence had recovered their poise their poise though and Alexander Borromeo made a great defensive header to clear a dangerous cross by Muhammad Ridwan before it could reach Irfan Bachdim or Gonzales. Jonsson then made up for his earlier lapse with a good challenge to deny Irfan before he could fire a shot on target.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Robert Gier produced the tackle of the game with a sliding challenge to stop Gonzales as he bore down on the Philippines goal after being released by Irfan's through ball.

The Indonesians continued to plug away throughout the second half only to be turned away time after time by the Filipino defence, which put in some fine last-ditch tackles to deny the Indonesians a clear change against Etheridge.

The visitors themselves had few real chances but they nearly drew level after an Indonesian defensive mix-up in the 75th minute. Maman Abdurachman got in the way of Harison as the goalkeeper attempted to gather the ball on the edge of the box and the loose ball fell to James Younghusband who fired a bicycle kick towards goal. Fortunately for the Indonesians, Zulkifly Syukur was alert to the danger and heroically headed the ball off his goalline.

Bambang Pamungkas came on as a substitute and broke into the box in the 80th minute only to be forced wide by Etheridge. The striker was still able to put in a cross from the left but it flew just over the head of Gonzales.


15 December 2010

AFF Suzuki Cup : Philippines 0-1 Indonesia FT

AFF Suzuki Cup Semifinal, first leg

Thursday 16. Dec : Philippines - Indonesia in Jakarta (1 PM CET, 8 PM Philippines)

Tv : Studio 23 in Philippines from 8 pm to 10 pm and Star Sports

Livestream : www.bet365.com (register)

Livescore : www.futbol24.com and www.spbolive.com

Good luck !


JAKARTA (15 Dec 2010) – Everything seems to be working in Indonesia’s favour. Tickets are sold out which means up to 90,000 fans will be at the Gelora Bung Karno to watch their team in action in the first leg semifinal of this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup. Indonesia President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, along with a host of dignitaries will be on hand to lend their support.

Indonesia also do not have any players suspended or injured, which means coach Alfred Riedl will have all options open to him. Even the weather seems to be holding out, allowing the pitch to be in the best of conditions ahead of the game tomorrow.

Then there’s also the best incentive of all, the USD 550,500 that has been promised to the team if they bag the prestigious trophy for the very first time in the history of the event.

“We are optimistic of delivering a good result to the fans. While we are all fit and ready to play tomorrow, we have to respect them too. They have nine naturalised players who are good. They are no longer the Philippines of before,” said assistant coach Wolfgang Pikal at the Pre-Match Press Conference today.
He said that the team had watched their opponents’ game and have identified their strengths and weaknesses.

When asked about the Younghusband brothers (James and Philip), Pikal warned that they could be dangerous. “They performed well in the previous matches and we have to contain them.”

Indonesia have been impressive in the run-up to the semifinals and look to have their best chance to not only make the final but go on to record a historic win at the end.

Earlier today, with tickets for the first match sold out, thousands of fans lined up for hours to try and get their hands on the tickets for the second match. In fact, it’s selling so fast, local officials are confident it will also be sold out by the end of the day.

Meanwhile, it was revealed at the team managers’ meeting today that over 2,000 security personnel which includes police, army, secret service and internal security, will be mobilised for the match.



JAKARTA (15 Dec 2010) – A few thousand kilometres away, Malaysia and Vietnam were counting down the hours before they kick-off the first leg semifinal tie of this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup today. At the same time across the South China Sea, coaches from Indonesia and Philippines were speaking to the media as part of their final countdown to the other semifinal tie at the Gelora Bung Karno here tomorrow.

“We never set out to win a match, we always aim to bring our best to the field and that’s what we will do again tomorrow. We have a great amount of respect for Indonesia, they have a strong team of full professionals and we’ve made it harder for ourselves by playing the first leg here,” said Simon McMenemy, head coach of Australia told a packed room of reporters today.

To add to the pressure, local officials have said that tickets for tomorrow’s game had been soldout and 88,000 passionate fans will be on hand to support their “timnas” (short for tim nasional). Among the fans will be the country’s number one fan, Bapak President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose presence is expected to provide a major boost to the Indonesian players.

“Only two of our players are full professionals, and many of them have never played in front of 88,000 fans.” The coach added that the match would be live back home and that means a whole lot more of fans will be following the proceedings on TV.

“The reality is we have to be respectful of Indonesia, we are the underdogs here. I wish I could be Wenger and come up with some strategy to beat them. But like I said, we must bring our best to the field and hold our composure. They will try and break us down.”

However, McMenemy said that his team had prevailed when faced with an enormous horde of passionate fans. “We faced hostile fans in Vietnam and it worked to our advantage. The boys rose to the occasion. We will try hard again and give 110percent.”
“Sometimes when you step into a cauldron, amazing things can happen.”

McMenemy certainly has his hands full trying to sort things out ahead of tomorrow evening’s giant clash. He has to get his boys to set aside the disappointment of not being able to play at home.

“It would have been the biggest game in Philippines’ history. So, yes, it was a big disappointment. It would have been fantastic to bring a team like Indonesia to the Philippines. Still, we will give our best tomorrow and hope to make it memorable. We will be prepared.”


PSSI nixes Filipino request to split ticket money

The Indonesian Soccer Association (PSSI) said it would not share ticket revenue from Thursday’s semifinal 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup match with the opposing team from the Philippines.

The lack of an acceptable stadium led the Filipinos to balk at hosting the match, as the Philippines was supposed to have done, according to PSSI chairman Halid Nurdin.

“I keep refusing to share the profits from ticket sales because the responsibility of organizing the match is in the hands of the Indonesian team,” Halid said on Wednesday in Jakarta as reported by tempointeraktif.com.

“Because [they’ve] chosen to play in Indonesia, then all expenses will be covered by Indonesia…as long as all profits from ticket sales go to Indonesia.”

The Filipinos reportedly requested 50 percent of the box office proceeds.

The PSSI previously agreed to pay for the Filipino team’s transportation and accommodation during its stay in Indonesia from Dec. 14 to 20 and might also pay the Filipino players a daily allowance.

Jakarta Post

POC backs Araneta’s bid as PH head to FIFA

By Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Olympic Committee reiterated on Wednesday its recognition of the Philippine Football Federation group led by Mariano Araneta, announcing that it has submitted its recommendation to the international football association (FIFA) to sanction the faction in the troubled association.

Chair Monico Puentevella said the POC also assured the national team members, collectively known as the Azkals, that they would not be disbanded as earlier reported.

"I assured them that it is the Philippine Olympic Committee, which finally decides who gets accredited and who does not," said Puentevella during the team’s sendoff Tuesday for the AFP Suzuki Cup semifinals in Jakarta Tuesday night. "That by reaching the semifinals, this country should reward them and not disband them. This is not the way we reward our athletes."

Puentevella said he assured national football coach Simon McMenemy on the team’s status. He said they did not have anything to worry about other than football.

According to Puentevella, the FIFA is now reviewing the papers they submitted endorsing recognition for Araneta's group.

During its congress on November 27, the PFF board elected Araneta as president after ousting Jose Mari Martinez due to total loss of confidence. The FIFA, however, continued to recognize Martinez as the election was not included in the congress’ agenda.

Puentevella and Araneta will be joining the team on Wednesday in Jakarta and plan to take this matter up officially with the Asian Football Federation in case it can still be reconsidered for the next or future matches.

Inquirer Sports

First Pinoy football team in UK suffers setbacks

LONDON - While the Azkals are receiving recognition for their heroics in The Suzuki Cup, thousands of miles away, players from another Pinoy football team are quietly going about their business as they push for promotion without coaches.

Philippine Football Club (PFC), formerly known as Philippine United Football Club (PUFC), exceeded expectations and convincingly won promotion from Division Two in their maiden campaign last season. The UK's first Pinoy football team looked to build on their success in Division One of the West Hertfordshire League.

Although PFC is currently ranked fourth, indicating a steady progression, the team has had to overcome several set-backs. The unexpected happened. Within the space of three months, three keys figures left the club.

In August, just before the start of the season, Leo Jensen, founder of PUFC, walked away due to personal reasons. He started another team closer to his home in the city of Manchester and in doing so took the original name and emblem of the club with him. Six league games into the season, Head Coach Norman Parkin and Assistant Coach Steve Conroy then followed suit.

The 30th of October proved to be the final straw for the coaches. PFC was due to host league rivals Harpenden Rovers A at their home ground in Watford, just outside of London. Parkin arranged a team meeting to take place before the game to discuss several issues, however several squad members arrived late, which infuriated him.

The coaches departed before kick-off, heading north, home towards Sheffield, 128 miles (206 kilometers) away. The players were shocked and put in a disjointed first half performance, going in at the break trailing two nil. PFC's players managed to regroup during half-time and came out with all guns blazing for the second half. The match ended 4-2 to PFC.

The following day, Parkin sent an email to the team citing tardiness, the lack of solid financial backing and the high number of injured players as reasons for leaving. He even joked he was going to “reserve a private ward at Watford Hospital...lol” for the team.

Parkin and Conroy posted PFC's paperwork to the players shortly afterwards and have not been involved with the club since. Despite what happened, Parkin did say he wished the team well for the future and will continue to support the club by updating the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) in Manila of their progress.

At the time, the players understood why the coaches were angry, but they still felt the decision was rash and slightly unclear.

In the absence of coaches and a secretary, three players have taken the reins and are currently running the club: Vice Captain Renee Banao, Goalkeeper Keith Townsend and Clubman Jesse Arroyo.

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