20 February 2013

Azkals face tough task ahead

By  Snow Badua

MANILA - The Philippine Azkals will just have 6 days to prepare for the upcoming 2014 Challenge Cup qualifiers, which the country will host on March 22-26 at the Rizal Memorial pitch.

Speaking to Solar Sports Desk, Philippine Azkals coach Michael Weiss bared that the usual problem in the players' schedule is the reason why he can only put together his booters from March 15-21.

“That’ll be probably the most time I can have with the team seriously together,” said Weiss.

“6 days of preparations is not too much for a big preparation (for a tournament) like this that has to be won... we have to try to make the best out of the situation as usual,” the German mentor added.

In the said tournament, the Azkals will hope to notch a seat in next year’s AFC Challenge Cup, which will also be a prerequisite to the more prestigious AFC Asian Cup the following year.

Home crowd support will be the biggest advantage the Philippines will tote against equally determined rivals Turkmenistan, Brunei and Cambodia.

“It’s important now that we work.. time is running out,” Weiss said. “ Which is of course not too easy. In an environment where you will still have to look for a pitch for the training, and players not available all the time.”

Meanwhile, Weiss bared that he is optimistic to fill-in the best possible roster with marquee names like Neil Etheridge, Jerry Lucena, Dennis Cagara already confirming participation.

The Azkals also expect other highly-rated Fil-foriegn stars like Stephan Schrock, Juani Guirado and Rob Gier to join the fray.

Weiss is also wary that his team will not even have test matches to prepare for the qualifiers.

“We have no test matches and we have little time for training and we should expect to get the best result,” revealed Weiss, while shaking his head.

With this the longtime international football coach is asking for patience and understanding from Filipino fans.

“People here rather than seeing the positive, they are criticizing. We are doing everything to bring football on a higher level,” Weiss said.

“They shouldn’t say we’re just lucky and all these stuff. A little bit more positive approach from the public and fans will be appreciated.”

Solar Sports Desk

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