For the football coaches of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the inconveniences that their teams encountered upon their arrival in the country actually happen in an event involving thousands of people.
“It wasn’t ideal… but things happen. It’s time to move on and just focus on the soccer,” Cambodia head coach Felix Dalmas said.
For his part, Myanmar coach Velizar Popov belittled the problem they encountered upon their arrival in the country but expresses hope that everything will be better.
“That’s small issue for me. It is not a big deal and I don’t want to talk more about it because it is not the main thing in this tournament,” Popov said in a media interview.
The football teams of Cambodia, Myanmar and Timor-Leste reportedly waited for hours for the shuttle buses to pick them up from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to the respective hotels.
The Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organization Committee (Phisgoc) has apologized for the inconvenience and confusion regarding the football teams’ transportation and hotel arrangements.
The confusion with the Timor-Leste football team happened when some of their members were initially brought to the Century Park Hotel along with the rest of the team, according to Phisgoc.
“However, the Timor-Leste coordinator pointed out that some were actually billeted at the nearby Hotel Jen. Phisgoc was able to arrange the delegates’ shuttle to the other hotel,” it added.
The Century Park Hotel also issued a statement to explain that details of the change in the arrival of the football team were related late to the organizers.
Despite the sudden change, they were immediately transported to the Century Park Hotel, but the team’s hotel rooms were not yet available because the standard check-in time was 2 p.m.
“However, as early as 8:25 a.m., some members were given an early check-in due to availability of rooms,” the hotel added in its statement on Sunday.
The team was even offered the hotel’s function rooms as their temporary holding area after their breakfast, and they were asked if they needed more chairs.
The team, however, declined, saying they preferred to use the floors so they could lie down instead.
Phisgoc chair Alan Peter Cayetano personally visited the affected foreign athletes to express his apology on Sunday night.
Cayetano, also House Speaker, assured that “the Philippine hosting will be great and meaningful for everyone."
The football competition started on Monday with the Group A opening match between Malaysia and Myanmar ending to a 1-all standoff while Vietnam got off to a sizzling start in Group B in swamping Brunei, 6-0.
In the other Group A match, Dennis Chung came off the bench to lift the Philippines to a face-saving 1-all draw against Cambodia.*
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