As far as I can remember, World Cup Qualifiers start on June 11, 2015. That’s barely more than a month away. If today was still January, I could understand the seeming absence of the azkals from the limelight. But no, with 34 days left before the supposedly most-anticipated tournament for our National Team, preparations have been nil. Nada. Zero. What’s happening? Where are the friendlies? Or the training camps? Are we that confident that one training camp done 3 months before the competition (which ended with a 2-1 loss to Bahrain, which is the team we will go against on June 11) is enough? I thought I read before that we are going to prepare for this more than we have prepared for the Suzuki Cup of last year? It seems to me that things just got worse.
Plans of having friendlies against neighbors Vietnam and Malaysia seems to be falling apart. And as I browse every night and day for news regarding the azkals, I often leave with disappointment. This was not what I thought would transpire. There are a lot of things that needs to be done, especially mastering the new formation Coach Dooley implemented during the last friendly against Bahrain. Players from overseas were thought to have been called and convinced to play for us, but so far, the likes of Stephen Palla, Iain Ramsay, Luke Woodland and the rest seem to have floated away.
The question now is, what do we want to happen?
Is this a case of local-football-first scenario where PFF now encourages UFL clubs to let their players play for their club and put national duties aside? Or is this a case of negligence on the part of the federation to prepare for such an important tournament?
I have respect for those in the PFF and the management staff of the National Team, but what is being shown now is plainly unacceptable. While other countries are preparing, we seem to be sitting ducks. Even Brazil, with their excellence in football, does not let themselves unprepared. Looking at where the Philippines currently stand in the Football World, I see no explanation to this drought of games (and preparations).
Bottomline is this: If ever the PFF or the Azkals management is seeing this, I ask you to please give more attention to the National Team when it comes to preparing for the WORLD CUP. Yes, this is the WORLD CUP we are talking about. Not a 2nd-tier-competition and not a regional-competition. These are the kind of tournaments where every game, every point, and every cheer counts.