By Olmin Leyba
The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) has set in motion preparations for the country’s quest for the elusive Southeast Asian Games men’s football medal in Indonesia even as the sport’s staging hangs in the balance with the host federation under threat of suspension.
PFF president Mariano Araneta said 40 players, composed mostly of local standouts and reinforced by Azkals Simon Greatwich and Jason de Jong, have been nominated to the Phl under-23 pool, with training stints in Kuwait and Qatar eyed.
“The pool will start training on June 22, and they are divided into the Luzon and Visayas training camps under coaches Roroy Pinero and Norman Fegidero,” Araneta said of the 40-man pool that will be handled by Michael Weiss after the Azkals’ stint in the Fifa World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Top players from the recent PFF Suzuki U23 National Cup lead the candidates to the SEA Games, including tournament MVP Aldrin Dolino, Best Striker Joshua Beloya, Lemuel Unabia and Joven Bedic from champ Negros Occidental FA, and Best Midfielder Francis Gustilo, Wilson Munoz and Neckson Leonora from runner-up Iloilo FA.
“There will only be eight Fil-foreign players in this pool, led by Simon and de Jong,” Araneta said, adding that Azkals’ Fil-British keeper Niel Etheridge, although still elibigle at 21 years old, will likely skip the SEAG. Philippine Star