18 June 2012

Azkals mentor far from satisfied

GIVEN the talent at their disposal, the Philippine Azkals could have easily come away with two wins and a draw in their three recent international friendly matches against separate foes, according to German coach Michael Weiss.
“We wanted seven points (six points from two wins, one point for a draw) and should have gotten it if not for concentration lapses defensively in the Indonesia game,” said Weiss, referring to the 2-all draw against the Indons last June 5 at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. “That, we have to work on.”
The Filipino booters drew with Malaysia 1-1 last June 1 in Kuala Lumpur and closed out their series of international friendlies last June 12 with an Independence Day drubbing of Guam 3-0 at the Panaad Sports Complex pitch in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
For the first time, except for Fil-German midfielder Stefan Schrock, Weiss had European-based players like Fil-Danish defenders Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara, Fil-Dutch midfielder Paul Mulders and Fil-German striker Denis Wolf bolstering the squad.
He also had the luxury of playing two solid goalkeepers, with Fil-Brit Neil Etheridge alternating with Fil-German Roland Mueller, who both played 45 minutes each in the deadlock against Indonesia.
“Overall, I want to thank the Philippine Football Federation and national team manager Dan Palami for organizing these three matches and having all these players together, which is important when you want to build a strong team,” he said.
The German mentor, who took over as Azkals coach in January 2011, noted the deeper bench has enhanced the playing style of the Filipino booters “who have come more into ball possession and active approach to the game rather than solely focusing on defensive style of play.
“But we still have to find the right balance between the two styles,” he stressed.
Among the players who aw action in the friendlies, Weiss said he was banking on three to four of the Europe-based players to be available for the Suzuki Cup, the Southeast Asian men’s football championships, in November.
But he declined to identify the players he expects to boost the Azkals, who emerged as surprise semifinalists in November 2010, ushering in a local football revival that sees no sign of waning nearly two years since it began.
Weiss has released the players to their respective clubs, including those seeing action in the local United Football League.
He said the Azkals will regroup in August to kick off their Suzuki Cup build-up starting with their US training camp on Aug. 8 to 25.


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