S'pore 'must be ready' despite cloud over Azkals' entry

S'pore 'must be ready' despite cloud over Azkals' entry
Coach Aide Iskandar.

Even before the SEA Games football tournament kicks off on Dec 2, confusion reigns over the number of teams taking part.

The drama surrounds the Philippines, who were included in Wednesday's group draw even as their officials insisted that their players would not be competing in Myanmar.

The Filipinos, who failed to make it out of the group stage at the last Games in 2011, have been slotted in Group A this time round.

The group is headlined by Causeway rivals Singapore and Malaysia, who are the defending champions in the Under-23 competition.

According to Philippines national team manager Dan Palami, the country's selectors had informed their football association last month that a men's side would not be sent to the Games owing to recent lacklustre performances, such as their 0-1 loss to Singapore in a friendly in June.

As a result, the Azkals' planned friendlies as well as training tours to Japan and the Middle East were scrapped.

On being included in the Games draw, which was reportedly attended by an unidentified Filipino official, Palami told The Straits Times on Wednesday: "I'm as confused as you are - this has caught us totally by surprise.

"We're concerned because it's not been the best of preparations and we don't want to just go there to lose."

The uncertainty does not help Singapore too.

Coach Aide Iskandar said: "It's difficult for us to prepare without knowing for sure who we will be facing and when.

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