Sunday, January 2, 2011

Azkals ready to go to next level

source: Abac Cordero |
Don’t expect the Azkals to lose their bite just because there’s trouble within the Philippine Football Federation.

Team manager Dan Palami, who has bankrolled the Azkals’ incredible surge, made the assurance yesterday, saying the players, both local and with foreign blood, are up to the task.

“As far as the team is concerned, we have always insulated ourselves from the politics of the NSA (national sports association). We have always concentrated on just playing,” he said.

There’s trouble within the PFF because Jose Mari Martinez is contesting his removal as president, and has filed a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent his successor, Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, from performing his duties.

Martinez’ lawyer, Ciriaco Calalang, filed the TRO three days ago before the Pasig Regional Trial Court.

“But the court has not acted upon it yet. It was supposed to be raffled off last Thursday but it did not happen. Maybe it will happen in the coming new year,” said Palami.

Martinez faced allegations of mishandling the PFF funds, leading to his ouster last Nov. 27 when 26 of 30 local football associations installed Araneta as the new PFF president.

The world governing body in the sport, FIFA, has already recognized Araneta as the rightful PFF head, as well as the Philippine Olympic Committee through the efforts of its chairman, Monico Puentevella.

If the leadership worsens, as it seems to be, having reached the courts, the PFF faces suspension from FIFA.

“I’m just worried if FIFA suspends the PFF because if that happens, we will not be able to play in international tournaments,” said Palami over the phone yesterday.

The FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation said it will look deep into the PFF mess.

The football-loving businessman assured everyone that his support will continue, but expressed concern that the politics within the PFF may turn off potential sponsors or others who are willing to help the team.

“I have always taken care of the players but instead of getting additional help, the potential sponsors might be discouraged by the row,” he said.

Palami added that a couple of big-name sponsors are knocking on the doors of the Azkals, who recently made waves by reaching the semis of the AFF Suzuki Cup, even landing on the pages of the prestigious Sports Illustrated magazine.

One of the potential sponsors was a backer of the recent World Cup and the Euro Cup, but Palami opted not to name it first until the letter of intent is sealed, signed and delivered.

Again, he assured the Filipino football fans that the Azkals won’t be affected by the PFF row, in the way they were not intimidated by 88,000 Indonesian fans in their gallant stand in the Suzuki Cup.

“As for the players, it hasn’t affected them at all. Instead, they’re worried that it might affect me. But it won’t,” said Palami.

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