Dan Palami steps down as Azkals manager

Dan Palami announced his resignation as Azkals manager. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--An era in Philippine football has come to an end as Dan Palami tendered his resignation as the men's national team's manager.

Palami himself announced on Tuesday during the first press conference of the Philippine Football Federation for the year at the national sports association's headquarters that he already stepped down as the Azkals' team manager.

"In deference to what Sir John (Gutierrez, PFF president) would be doing in the next four years at least, I don't want to shackle him with whatever agreement we'd had previously, and I want to give him the elbow room and a free hand to do what he thinks is necessary for Philippine football to move forward and that includes the national team, which is a core component of the Philippine Football Federation program," Palami explained.

Palami added that he arrived at the decision after consulting his family and friends about it, but he clarified that he is not leaving the sport and is just moving on to "the next phase."

"I move on to the next phase in my football life. I'm not leaving football because I think once you're in it, you're in it for life. You cannot do anything about it," said Palami, who later revealed that he is putting up a football program for the school he is leading, the St. Therese Educational Foundation in Tacloban.

Palami took over the managerial duties for the national team in 2009, and a year later, the then newly-rechristened Azkals achieved a major breakthrough by qualifying for the AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup, formerly the AFF Suzuki Cup, semifinals, stunning powerhouse Vietnam in what was later called "The Miracle in Hanoi" to qualify.

The Azkals then had a steady rise to becoming the top football team in Southeast Asia during the mid-2010s.

Fast forward to today, following recent struggles that sent them down to number four in the region, Palami is now giving way to Gutierrez to lead a new era for the Azkals as they try to climb back to the top.

"Sir John, I'm sure in his leadership, will find the right path moving forward, so I'll be supporting his decision and the PFF in whatever way I can but outside the management of the national team," Palami said.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez said that the PFF has already named three top candidates to become Palami's successor as Azkals manager.

"Once we've decided on who will take on the heavy burden that Sir Dan mentioned, we will announce it," Gutierrez said on the timetable of who becomes the new Azkals manager.

The Azkals will return to action in the March window of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, and the new manager is expected to be named before the said period.

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