29 July 2011

End of World Cup journey just a start for Azkals

MANILA, Philippines – The road to the 2014 World Cup might be over, but all is not lost for the Azkals, who bravely fought but failed in losing to the ten-time Gulf Champions Al Azraq of Kuwait, 2-1 (5-1 aggregate score), in the second round of the Asian qualifiers.

There is still victory in the Azkals’ defeat if you ask head coach Hans Michael Weiss and their opponents’ coach.

“They may be down right now but I think this team can take this defeat. We have to take it fairly and also acknowledge that we went up against a tough opponent,” said Weiss moments after loss.

“In terms of the aspects of the game – technique, tactic and conditioning – Kuwait was always one step faster. The team can only learn from this experience. One year ago, who would have thought that we’ll reach this far but we have to continue. I hope that the support will not stop,” Weiss added.

The country has a long way to go and is still a work in progress, but the Al-Azraq Kuwait coaching staff thinks it’s just a matter of time before the Azkals become an Asian powerhouse.

“You have great talents and good system in place. You have to continue playing to gain more experience. We may have more experience and better ranking but I think in a short period of time, the Philippines will become one of the top 10 national teams in Asia,” the Kuwait coaching staff, led by Tufegdzic, said appeared in the post-match press conference.

But for this to happen, Weiss asked for the critics’ understanding and support from the fans.

“We still have a long way to go but the Philippines is on the right track. The team will be a contender for the World Cup in the next four years [in my own point of view] but we will need more international exposure and extensive training,” said the German mentor, who replaced English mentor Simon McMenemy early this year.

The Azkals will resume training with the Under-23 Team late in August to prepare for the Long Teng Cup in Taiwan in September.

Weiss said that they will bring in a couple of youngsters, whose names were withheld, to test them before the Southeast Asian Games in November.

The team will undergo an extensive four-week training camp in preparation for the SEA Games, including another trip to the Gulf region for exhibition matches. A four-nation cup is also being eyed to give the Azkals more international exposure leading to the AFC Challenge Cup in March, where the country is one of the eight nations competing for a spot in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Australia.

Joining the Azkals in the tournament are Palestine, India, Turkmenistan, Maldives, North Korea, Tajikistan and Nepal.

“First of all, everybody needs a break. We need a mental and, as well as, physical break. These players have sacrificed a lot in the past few months. They might be down but they did a fine job. They held their own against a top 100 team in the world. I don’t want to praise them too much but they gave their best but it was not enough to lead us to victory,” said Weiss.



  1. Kuwait coach says..
    "I think in a short period of time, the Philippines will become one of the top 10 national teams in Asia"

    Then anyone knows what Qatar coach said towards Vietnam who pulled off 2-1 win at home ? Vietnam will become one of top 5 in Asia in short period of time ? haha..

    Sounds sweet but groundless. More so as i doubt if Kuwait themselves are one of Asian top 10.

  2. SEA muna then Asia :)

  3. "The Azkals will resume training with the Under-23 Team late in August to prepare for the Long Teng Cup in Taiwan in September."

    We're sending the U-23's to the Long Teng Cup??

  4. @ anonymous : I believe that we are sending full NT to Long Teng Cup. Im not sure about Manila Beer Cup in October... U23 or full Nt ?

  5. I post one comment from Philstar :

    kndim wrote:

    I'm married to a Filipina and visit the Philippines for extended periods every year. I come from a culture where football is cherished and is more than a religion, and can attest without hesitation that football success is something that comes from the bottom up, and not top-down. Unfortunately, I see the recent introduction of the beautiful game in the Philippines as somewhat of an elite sport to be rather unfortunate. The world over, the game is played by kids who start playing with no shoes on what can hardly be called pitches (somewhat like basketball in the Philippines), and from those humble beginnings, we see the creation of future great stars.

    However, the Philippines seems to have too much of a celebrity culture, which means that people seem to be more interested in the Younghusbands' cuteness and "beautiful accent" than in their football skills or lack thereof - or in who they are going out with. For the Philippines to actually make it internationally, the game must develop homegrown talents, and that means starting from as early as pre-k, rather than having instant celebrities trained abroad to carry the game as that only seems to put it beyond the reach of the average Filipino, who does not seem to quite understand the game, but rather, sees it as something played by Fil-Ams.

    This is not meant to disrespect the Azkals, but rather, is just stating my observations, and I hope they will be taken in the spirit in which they are given.

  6. Bravo to kndim for telling it like it is.
    Unfortunately celebrity and delusion are favourite Philippines' sports and talented kids in the barrios will still be stubbing their barefoot toes while PFF money keeps pouring in to over-train and over-promote a pseudo-national team of mediocre allstars.

  7. I agree with you that we need to start with the kids, with a solid grassroots program. The PFF for a long time has embarked on this, rather unsuccessfully though. But for a country that does not know the beautiful game that well, the popularity of the Azkals is more of a blessing than a curse.

    In our place, kids below 12 yo are now raring to take on the field to emulate their idols. It's now up to the local FAs to capitalize on this newfound fame and come up with a sustainable and effective grassroots program. Don't wait for the PFF, do it on your own.

    If you want to see your country play in the World Cup, start in your barangays, train the kids, encourage them, stoke their imagination, give them hope! And your dreams, as well as mine, will come true.

    When I see my flag in a WC game, when I hear the first few notes of my country's anthem, when I cheer for my own.. I can die a happy man.

  8. PFF money? To train and promote?? A pseudo-national team???

    Know the facts man, before you comment.

  9. In my opinion the recent small success of the Azkals is a merrit mostly of their Filipinos based abroad which seems that some writers here don't like that much sometimes. But to tell the truth: even you don't like them they have the basic education in football as they grew up with the sport. the only filipino based (and born) player who has the skills and the passion is Chieffy. The rest? May sound hard but you won't win a flower pot with them even vs. the weakest oponents like the past showed. If you rely just on them soon the sport will be forgotten again like in the past centuries. Sorry for starting this stupid comparison again. For me all players in the team are Filipinos no matter where they come from, half or full breed. Its our team and I will support them no matter what. I think the key for the future is (like many said already) developing the youth and bring it to the sport that some talents can ripe which have the skills to make it to the NT and a higher level. But also we shouldn't forget to scout the best players with Pinoy roots abroad. The success is in the right ballance and mix. Maybe some might offend me again with their knowledge but this is my humble opinion.

  10. the current situation, yes, requires balance. balancing the team with homegrown and overseas trained players. in time, we will be able to field more locally trained players. but that is, if we at home catch up with trainings, discipline, tourneys, interest in football, at par with the realities abroad. it's not easy, but we can do it. if we all do our part. the pff, weiss, palami, the players can't do it without our support and the kids' interest in the sport. wag sayangin, magandang simula ito.

  11. No chance of offense my friend. Thank you for your opinion. As Voltaire said: ''Think for yourselves but grant others the privilege to do the same.''