By Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The jury is still out for German coach Michael Weiss close to a year into his reign as Philippine Azkals mentor.
Azkals manager Dan Palami, who hired Weiss last January as part of a financial assistant package with the German Football Association (DFB), said he could not completely evaluate Weiss’ performance because there are many factors that need to be considered.
Under the German coach, who has had stints with the Rwanda Under-17 team, the Azkals tallied five wins, five draws and five losses, including the 1-6 defeat to the Los Angeles Galaxy in an exhibition match last Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Weiss also coached the Under-23 Azkals in the Southeast Asian Games, winning one game and losing four matches despite landing in what was perceived as a weaker group.
“We must understand that his performance is based on several factors,” said Palami. “It’s the fact that we still rely on foreign-based players and they arrive a day before the tournament and therefore it’s very difficult to achieve cohesion.”
Palami noted the Azkals’ achievements under Weiss, including the qualification to the AFC Challenge Cup for the first time, the improved second place finish in the Long Teng Cup and making the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers.
But Palami also acknowledged the “very disastrous result in the SEA Games.”
Palami said gathering the best team possible for a tournament remains the biggest challenge for the Azkals.
“We can hold off strong competition when we have a complete lineup,” said Palami. “The biggest challenge is still bringing the best team together.”
“There are alot of variables. We have to compartmentalize the problems. If we are able to do this, then we will be able to assess his (Weiss) performance,” said Palami.
The Azkals are in for a tough time in the March 9-13 Challenge Cup where they have been grouped with North Korea, Tajikistan and India. But Palami said there’s a good chance that the Azkals will have the likes of Stephan Schrock, Dennis Cagara, Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders and Neil Etheridge for the tournament.
Palami also said Juan Luis Guirado, the brother of Azkals striker Angel Guirado, will be available for the Challenge Cup as well as the two training camps in preparation for the tournament.
“I think there’s a good chance and we can haggle with the clubs (to release them) because the players will only miss one game,” said Palami.