Limpag: Time for a leadership change in the PFF?

Unlike in previous tournaments or qualifiers, our men’s team in the AFF Mitsubishi Cup had one of the longest preparations since 2012, when the Azkals embarked on a two-country tour.

For the latest AFF tournament, the pool was formed in November. The coach may have been announced late, but that didn’t mean preparations were not done.

Still, it didn’t change a thing and we suffered another group stage exit and now there are talks of yet another coaching change. At this stage, it’s not worth learning the name of the coach if you’d have him for only three games or less.

Josep Ferre was what, the fourth Azkals coach in as many tournaments in two years? Scott Cooper in Suzuki Cup 2021, Stewart Hall in Singapore Tri-nations in March 2022, Thomas Dooley in Asian Cup qualifiers in June 2022, and finally, Ferre in the Mitsubishi Cup 2022. That’s not including Ernest Nierras’ spell as head coach during a couple of friendlies post-Dooley Era 2.

If we could no longer afford a foreign coach for the long term, why not give the spot to a local? Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s the local staff that did the bulk of the preparations—checking player availability and status and communicating with the clubs.

Pre-2010, we used to have one-month camps, which were even criticized then as too short but the first two weeks of those camps were spent in getting out-of-shape players match-fit for the international game.

With our players coming from the PFL and leagues in Southeast Asia, they arrive at camp fit but the need to have more games together is made obvious during tournaments.

Then again, friendlies cost money, which the PFF no longer has for the men’s team. That’s why we have managers. In other countries, the coach is the manager. In the Philippines, the manager is one who spends his own personal money for the team.

Nonong Araneta became the PFF president because of malcontent at home then PFF head Mari Martinez gave up the semifinal hosting of the 2010 Suzuki Cup and got him sacked. Will Nonong suffer the same fate? Martinez was already an unpopular leader who only managed to avoid ouster by bribing… I mean by depositing P20,000 to the FA president’s personal bank accounts as a communication allowance.

Nonong, despite some discontent, remains a popular leader for football. An overstaying leader. He has won three terms but under the statutes adapted in 2015 that only allows PFF presidents to serve two consecutive terms, he has only won once and is eligible for re-election.

Should he run again? He is entitled to but as someone who harshly criticized Peping Cojuangco for overstaying and for bending the Philippine Olympic Committee rules in his favor, it would be hypocritical of me to support another Araneta candidacy.

Unless, of course, there’s no one else who would challenge him.