Limpag: It’s time to put up a B team for Azkals?

WHEN I saw the lineup for the Philippines for the CTFA international football tournament the other week, I knew the team wasn’t set to win the whole thing. The tournament coincided with the PFL semis, so no one from Kaya, Ceres, Global and Meralco made the team.

Instead, we had a bunch of collegiate standouts playing for a Davao Aguilas-led Azkals. They won against Laos, 3-1, but lost to Chinese Taipei, 3-0, and East Timor, 1-0. The reaction online, from being amused to outraged, pretty much sums up the sentiments of most fans.

But like what my friend Bob Guerrero said, it’s much ado about nothing.

Sure we lost, but it’s great that college stars, including Cebuano Kintaro Miyagi, formerly of Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, got to play. Ever since we started getting players from overseas, the best collegiate players haven’t had a chance to play for the senior team.

I think the last time we’ve had a bunch of college players make a significant impact in the senior team was during Aris Caslib’s breakthrough tournament in 2004, when the Philippines finally shed the long-standing image of being a minnow in Southeast Asia.

Aside from Miyagi, the collegiate players called up for the senior team were Juliano Clarino and Christian Lapas of UP, Javier Gayoso of Ateneo and Ray Joyel of FEU. Both Phil and James Younghusband also were in the team, but were playing significantly reduced roles, while Angel Guirado finally got back in the squad.

This move by the PFF got me thinking that perhaps it’s time we should have a B team for international competitions like the CTFA. No need to have Phil and James play mentors to a young squad, let’s try to find a new natural leader from a young squad.

I thought the CTFA tournament was a big experiment and when it comes to experiments, results count for nothing. There was a slight problem though with the CTFA team as Dan Palami said the national team management wasn’t consutled in the formation of the team. (They were playing in Nepal when the lineup was submitted).

I’m sure Dan and the coaching staff have their eyes out on certain players who they’d want to see in the international level but couldn’t give the chance yet in official matches. Having a B team will give them that chance.
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