Azkals manager Palami relieved that WCQ pulled out from Suzhou

The Azkals are still in Doha as they await the AFC's decision on the new WCQ venue. Jan Dayrit (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Longtime national football team manager Dan Palami expressed a sigh of relief that the Azkals would not anymore need to go to Suzhou, China for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers following the Asian Football Confederation's decision to pull out the remainder of the ongoing window from there.

This after Palami bared that at least four team officials would have been stalled in Doha had the Azkals push through.

"We would have been severely short-handed in China if the games pushed through there," Palami said on Monday night.

The Azkals have already been reeling with the unavailability of some members of the training pool like vice captain Neil Etheridge, who was ruled out due to a surgery.

However, Palami revealed that two officials were advised to stay in Doha and would not be allowed entry in China after they tested positive in the rapid antibody test due to possible vaccination.

Oftentimes, the antibodies generated from the COVID-19 vaccines will be detected in the rapid antibody test.

A couple more officials were also not allowed to join the Azkals in Suzhou despite getting negative results in both the RT-PCR and rapid tests "just because they had a prior history of being COVID-19 positive in 2020."

With the development, Palami said that the Azkals will continue their training in Doha until the AFC announces the new venue of the matches.

"The developments will allow us to get more training time before these important matches," Palami further said.

He also said that the Azkals "will explore every possibility to further strengthen the team that we have now."

In conclusion, however, Palami clarified that despite reports surfacing that Dubai is being tapped to replace Suzhou as the WCQ host for Group A, nothing has been cast in stone yet.

"We urge the fans to remain patient as we wait for a fair and reasonable decision on the venue and schedule of our matches," he further said.

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