Limpag: The 12-year reset

“I hope, too, the Philippine Football Federation learns the lesson of the Timor-Leste fiasco, a loss the team so deserved. Some writers call it an upset, but it wasn’t. It was far from one.”

I wrote that in 2011, hours after the former minnows of Southeast Asia eliminated the Philippines in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Indonesia. It was a pretty long piece laden with frustrations at the mishandling of that team’s SEA Games preps.

I was reminded of that piece after I read the reactions from fans after the Philippines lost to Timor-Leste, 3-0, and got eliminated from this year’s SEA Games.

A disclaimer. I haven’t seen any of the SEA Games matches and I only get updates from news reports. Though I’m part of the chat group of the football beat, I’m just — as a fellow veteran call it — a lurker. And to be perfectly blunt, I’ve lost interest in the men’s teams and Philippine football.

My interest and curiosity were piqued only lately when I learned Rob Gier was named the U22 coach and that Stephan Schrock was looking to run for the PFF presidency.

Now, back to the SEA Games debacle.

Twelve years after that disastrous stint in Indonesia and we’re still talking about the same issues. Doesn’t that tell you something?

The Azkals Development Team was supposed to address that lack of preparedness for the SEA Games. So, the Azkals management gathered the best U22 eligible players, and made them play together under Schrock.

Then, a few months back, the PFF announced that Gier was to lead the U22, not Schrock, who has been leading the U22 since the ADT started.

I thought, “OK, perhaps it’s because Schrock has been named in the senior coaching staff.”

Nobody really asked the right questions when PFF made that move since, well, it was a feel-good appointment.

And now, after the PFF debacle, the Azkals Facebook page made a curious announcement, that the Azkals management and Dan Palami are not involved in the operation of the U22 team and that it’s managed by a team formed by the PFF technical department, thanks to a subsidy from the PSC.

It’s basically a fancy way of saying, “IT’S THEIR FAULT!”

That, for me, explains why Schrock is not involved with the U22 and hints at a rift among the top guys in PFF football. I hope that’s not the case.

Now, back to the issue at hand. The best SEA Games teams we’ve had since 1991 are the 2005 and 2019 teams, which both lost on a semis spot in their last game, with the latter through a goal difference.

The 2005 team prepared as early as 2004 for their event. As for the 2019 squad, I admit, I didn’t follow their preparations. Why were those two squads in contention right until the last game unlike this year’s team?

I hope we won’t need another 12 years to find the answers.