By Cedelf P. Tupas
As the Philippine football team gears for its biggest match yet in the next two months, Azkals manager Dan Palami yesterday said they will be taking a tougher stand on disciplining players who may lose their focus because of their new-found popularity.
Seeking to sustain their impressive run of results that started with a semifinal appearance in the AFF Suzuki Cup last December, the Azkals began training for their first round qualifying clash for the 2014 Fifa World Cup against Sri Lanka last week at the Alabang Country Club.
The team has been thrust into the limelight because of its achievements, but Palami has been quick to remind the Azkals of their goals.
“We are entering a different level of competition and now more than ever, there is a bigger responsibility to be more focused,” said Palami, who is ready to risk dropping players just to drive home his point.
“Nobody is bigger than the team. Nobody should feel they are indispensable,” he said. “We are willing to take a step back (by dropping players), just to make significant steps forward.”
With the camp in Duren, Germany, just a month away, the battle for spots in the squad is expected to intensify in the coming weeks with several foreign-based players seeking to impress coach Hans Michael Weiss.
Among the players who are currently training with the squad are Filipino-British striker Chad Gould, a veteran of several international tournaments, and Filipino-Australian Leigh Gunn.
Also joining the workouts are Filipino-Americans Nathaniel Burkey and Neil Ignacio and Filipino-Iranian Misagh Bahadoran, who is among the leading scorers in the first division of the United Football League.
Palami said they will only bring 23 to 25 players in the two-week camp in Germany and the players’ performance in the workouts will be heavily considered in the selection process. Source