The Philippines national team arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal one week ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup 2012. The “Azkals” will face India, Tajikistan and DPR Korea in a tough Group B.
The “Azkals” are coached by German Michael Weiss, who took over the reigns at the helm of the Philippines national team in 2010. The German was a goalkeeper with German outfit FK Pirmasens during his professional career as a footballer. He started his coaching career as a trainee with the likes of Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Arsene Wenger at Arsenal FC and Vanderlei Luxemburgo at Real Madrid.
Weiss is fully aware of the tough group and is not putting any pressure on his team. “We have a very tough group as you can see. We have Tajikistan, India and North Korea, whom we play first. All of them are previous winners of the tournament,” the German told my colleagues at GoalNepal.com on his teams’ arrivial in Kathmandu. “So I think we will be underdogs, but we will give everyone a hard fight – that’s for sure! Then we have to see what will be the result.”
“We wanted to come here early to get used to the environment so we don’t have any problems to adopt to the situation here,” Weiss continued. “It is a little bit cold here, but we will get used to it.”
The Philippines conducted a preparation camp in Dubai like the Indian team and the “Azkals” played Southeast Asian powerhouses Malaysia in an international friendly match. The Philippines almost pulled a shocker in the match, but were unlucky to concede a late equaliser to record a 1-1 draw.
“It was a little bit unlucky. We conceded the goal almost in the last minute of the game. But overall it was a fair result,” Weiss said. “This is were we need to work on! We need to really step on our toes until the last second of the game to secure these victories.”
“Malaysia is a strong team in this region and if we could have beaten them without three or four of our top players it would have been a big boost for this tournament. But it’s OK and we are in a good shape,” the coach added.
Looking forward to the AFC Challenge Cup 2012, Weiss told: “We are very positive. We had a very nice training camp in Dubai including the match against Malaysia. The Philippines federation has allowed us to come here earlier and these are good signs for a nice tournament here in Nepal.”
Talking about the Group B matches, the German said: “Firstly we need to see some highlights of the Tajikistan and North Korea matches. That will give us some ideas on them. I got also some tapes from India.”
“But we need to focus on our system and we have refined it in the last couple of weeks. So we have a clear picture how we want to play and that’s more important than looking at your opponents,” Weiss retained.
The Philippines will face the Indian national team on March 11.
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