By JONAS TERRADO
MANILA, Philippines — Azkals team manager Dan Palami gave the team’s German coach Michael Weiss credit for helping the team reach new heights of achievement in the 12 months that Weiss had handled the national football squad.
“If we go by results then I think he has given us the results that we wanted,” said Palami. “He got us to the qualifiers and the main draw (of the AFC Challenge Cup) and we go to third.”
“It's historic already that we got into the final eight and even more historic with the third place achievement,” he said during Tuesday’s PSA Forum.
The Challenge Cup campaign is regarded as the most notable moment under Weiss.
The Azkals won 4-2 on aggregate over Mongolia, then placed second to Palestine in the qualifying round in Myanmar over a year ago to earn a spot in the main draw of the recently-concluded tournament in Kathmandu, Nepal.
From there, the Filipino booters overcame an opening day loss to eventual champion North Korea to reach the semis. They suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Tajikistan before salvaging third with a 4-2 victory over Palestine.
Weiss also steered the Azkals to the second of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers last July. It beat Sri Lanka in the first round before bowing to Kuwait.
The most disappointing stint for Weiss was when the Philippine U-23 team won just a single game in the Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta last November. Regardless, Palami is satisfied with the overall result.
“Judging from what I've seen, I think it slowly took a while for the player and the coach to really have the cohesion that we wanted, but I see that they're slowly evolving into a very good combination,” said Palami.