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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Palami shifts focus toward youth football development

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Finding and developing young and talented players from the Visayas region will be the next big thing for Dan Palami, a Tacloban-based businessman and sports patron, after he stepped down as manager of the Philippine Azkals.

Palami, who submitted his letter of resignation to the Philippine Football Federation (PFF) last Friday, has shifted his focus on youth football development and setting up an academy in northeastern Leyte.

With Palami gone, the PFF is now looking for a new manager, who will handle the affairs of the Azkals.

“He has expressed his intention to step down as Azkals’ manager to give my administration a free hand, moving forward,” said PFF president John Anthony Gutierrez, in a press conference on Tuesday, four days after receiving Palami’s letter of resignation.

Palami has been handling the affairs of the Azkals since he became team manager of the national team back in 2009.

“I will still continue supporting the national team as I go on to the next challenges,” said Palami.

Putting up a football academy at a farmland converted into a soccer field in barangay Palanog in the outskirts of Tacloban is currently one of Palami’s priorities.

Palami said the academy that they have formed has connections with a Norwegian-based institution and will hook up with Eastern Visayas-based learning institutions in the coming days.

During Palami’s watch, the Philippines’ campaign in international meets turned around at the 2010 AFF Championship with Simon McMenemy as coach.

Under Palami, numerous Fil-foreign booters like Younghusband brothers Phil and James, Neil Etheridge, Stephan Schrock and Patrick Reichelt, along with great local talent in Chieffy Caligdong, came forward to play for the Azkals, during the early stages of his 14-year stint. Peter Atencio

In the early days of Palami’s time as manager, the Philippines advanced from the group stage for the first time and had a memorable win against defending champion Vietnam.

Then, new coach Michael Weiss was around as the national team qualified for the 2012 edition of the AFC Challenge Cup, the first time qualifiers were introduced. The team also recorded its first victory in the FIFA World Cup qualification.

Also in 2012, the Philippines qualified in the semifinals of the AFC Challenge Cup for the first time, winning over former champions India and Tajikistan.

The Philippines reached the final of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup. With a berth in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup on the line, the Philippines lost to Palestine, 1–0.

When Thomas Dooley became the head coach, their 2–0 victory over Yemen in Doha, Qatar in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, was the Azkals’ first-ever World Cup qualifier victory away from home.

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