THE Azkals could face a minnow in Cambodia on Sunday night in their first outing in the Group E qualifiers for the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup on Sunday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
But the Azkals’ German coach, Michael Weiss, does not want complacency eating up his wards’ minds when they take the pitch at 7:30 p.m.
Turkmenistan shut out Cambodia, 7-0, on Friday night, a result Weiss feared could make the Azkals overconfident.
“I don’t want that [Turkmenistan rout of Cambodia] playing at the back of our heads. That is not the standard that we’re looking at. We’ll still go full power and strength against Cambodia,” said Weiss.
But playing a team that labored against the runners-up in the 2012 finals could work in their favor.
“Our opponents [Cambodians] will be tired since they will only have 48 hours to recover, while we’re fully fresh and that puts them on a high pressure. Hopefully, we could get good scoring opportunities at the start of the match, and I see that as our preparation against Turkmenistan,” added Weiss.
Turkmenistan, indeed, could be a bad headache for Weiss and the Azkals.
The Turkmenistan side did not go full throttle against Cambodia in that shutout on Friday night.
“It could have easily been 10-nil or 12-nil for Turkmenistan,” said Weiss of Turkmenistan, which finished second to North Korea in the 2012 finals.
“Turkmenistan is strong, and we know that. But I was surprised that they did not exploit all of their scoring chances,” said Weiss, who cautioned that not all of the Turkmenistan players are members of their national team.
“They’re represented here by a club team,” he said.
Veteran striker Wladimir Karajaýewiç Baýramow scored in the 23rd and 36th minutes to lead Turkmenistan on top of Group E with six points.
The AFC has awarded an automatic three points each to Cambodia, the Philippines and Turkmenistan because of the last-minute pullout of Brunei from the qualifiers.
Most of Turkmenistan’s players, Weiss said, play for club team Halkara Turkmen Turkish University Footbal Club Ashgabat in the Ýokary Liga. They are coached by Ýazguly Hojageldyýew.
But despite their status as a club team, Weiss is wary. “Hojageldyýew [has his players always together]. They are well organized and you can see how they execute good-quality plays. But I see some weaknesses that we can exploit,” said Weiss.