PH Team sent to Taipei for CTFA Invitational finish the tournament with 1 win and 2 losses.
It was supposed to be an easy tournament, a pocket tournament played against some of the weakest teams on Earth that would serve as good experience to test out fringe players for the National Team. Coming into the tournament as the highest ranking team, on paper, this should pose no problem for our side.
But things didn’t exactly go to plan.
The PFF sent a team made mostly of players from the 2017 SEA GAMES team reinforced by players from Stallions Laguna and Davao Aguilas PFL teams and was coached by PFF Technical Director Marlon Maro.
The first game was against a young Laos side, ranked 184th in the world, a whooping 66 places below the Philippines. Things went on as expected as the Philippines thrashed Laos 3-1 with goals from Phil Younghusband, his 48th, the returning Angel Guirado and debutant Kintaro Miyagi adding one each before the Laotians pulled one back deep into stoppage time. Fans celebrated the victory, with defenders of the team hushing the critics, telling those that are against the selections to keep their mouth shuts, as if rubbing it into their faces that they were right, and the critics were wrong.
Then the 2nd game came against a stronger Chinese-Taipei side, ranked 135 in the world. But the ranking were thrown out the window in this game, 2 goals by Li Mao, one for each half buried the Philippines early. A red card from Angel Guirado in the 68th minute did not make things easier for the visitors. Chen Ting-Yang added salt to the PH Team’s wound by scoring a third for Chinese-Taipei.
Coming into the last day against the only winless team in the competition, Timor-Leste ranked 196th in the world, the Philippines were expected to steamroll their opponents. But the Timorese had other ideas. Marlon Maro, clearly underestimating the opponents chose to start Phil Younghusband on the bench. Clearly this decision by Maro is not the right one with your team needing to win to avoid embarrassment against the lowest ranked team in this tournament.. But alas, disaster struck, with the Philippines wasting their chances, Timor-Leste scored a dagger in the 89th minute to doom the Azkals to their 2nd loss in 3 games. To make things more head scratching, Maro chose to sub out Keeper Ray Joyel in the dying moments of the game. The result was a hard one to stomach, and the fact that it happened the same day as the Miracle in Hanoi makes it even worse.
The recent results does not bode well for the REAL AZKALS. A drop in the rankings could prove fatal if we qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup as we could be dropped from Pot 3 to Pot 4.
In the first place, who authorized that they send THIS team instead of professionals? Players from 4 of the 8 PFL teams out of playoff contention were available for selection, the likes of Sean Kane, Melo Tacusalme and Nelson Gasic of JPV, Nico Nazal, David Kamau, and the Uzoka brothers of Ilocos were there for the taking. Instead they brought the SEA Games team.
Why was Maro handling this team? This is an A level tournament. That means the Head coach of the Senior team should be the one calling the shots or at least one of his assistants.
As of writing the PFF has been silent, Only choosing to report the Laos win with no mention of the loss to CT and the recent loss to the weakest team in SEA and the World.
The Federation officials are complacent, the fans are being told to shut up by PFF defenders. What a time to be a Filipino Football fan.