By Rafael Bandayrel
Former Philippine Azkals defender Anton Del Rosario said seeing his ex-teammates qualify for the AFC Asian Cup is a “dream come true” even if he is no longer part of the team.
As far is Del Rosario is concerned, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup is a whole different target. According to the football star, the Philippines need to “scrap everything” and “start from scratch” if they are to make the World Cup.
“I’m not saying that we haven’t done anything but we need to re-align our structure and have a clear beginning and a clear end goal,” Del Rosario said.
The 36-year-old believes the Philippine football scene needs to be fixed from the grassroots level for the country to thrive and attain better success.
“Right now, when it comes to it, there are a few academies out here in Manila. But what happens with these academies, they start taking players from one to another. They don’t work together,” said Del Rosario.
“If these academies aren’t working together at a youth stage then how do they expect to be successful when they get older?”
Furthermore, Del Rosario thinks the professional football landscape needs a boost in able to inspire more young Filipinos to care about the sport.
“We also need a proper league for our kids to look up to. If our league is struggling to keep six teams in the PFL, then how could kids look up to that?” Del Rosario told Manila Bulletin Sports.
Although Del Rosario thinks the World Cup will have to remain a dream for the Azkals, he said making the Asian Cup is an achievement in itself.
“For the Philippines to be there, it’s really amazing. Football for us is not just a game. We are very passionate about it,” he said.
“It’s a life. It’s a lifestyle for us. For them to be able reach one of the main stages, it’s a big accomplishment, for the sport and for the country.”