MANILA, Philippines – Aggressive and offense-oriented. This is the game plan of the new coach of the Philippine football team Azkals as his team clashes against Mongolia in the Asian Football Federation (AFC) Challenge Cup in February.
"We'll push up the line a little bit more," Hans Michael Weiss told the media after the contract-signing between ABS-CBN Sports and Philippine Football Federation Monday at the ELJ Communications Center at the ABS-CBN Compound in Quezon City.
"We'll be closer to the goal," Weiss added.
Weiss, who has previously managed teams in China, Japan, and Rwanda, arrived in the country last week to lead the team's training and conditioning routine.
He said the team must try a "different approach" to come strong against their Mongolian foes.
"We should not underestimate Mongolia too much," he said.
The Azkals, who rose to stardom overnight after defeating Vietnam - the AFF champion during the last season, lost to Indonesia, 0-2 in the semifinals last December.
In the dying minutes of the concluding Philippines-Indonesia game, the Azkals was reduced to 10 men, a player short of 11 per side. They also had three players getting yellow cards, or warning, for fouls.
After the Azkals' loss, Indonesia, on the other hand, thumped Malaysia to bag the crown.
New coach, new players
A new batch of half-Filipinos are expected to buttress the team and will arrive in the country next week. But they will not yet be allowed to play in the February games, coming fresh into the team.
In an interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com, Weiss revealed he is confident with his lineup of "quality players."
"They're good prospects. They are players who grew up in a very different environment... that's very important," he said.
Weiss said everyone in his team has had his own unique experience in football. He said each style and knowledge acquired about the game will enrich the team as its players gear up for the AFC Cup.
"For me, there's no Filipino or foreign players. There are just players who have had different training," he said.
Meanwhile, the Azkals said they are looking forward to playing under the leadership of a new coach.
"It's great. [He] has a different aspect," the team's captain, Aly Borromeo, said. "I believe we'll have a solid team [against] the Mongolian team."
Phil Younghusband, one of the team's most popular players along with brother James, said he is relying a lot on Weiss. "Coach promises we'll be fit for the game," he said.
"He knows what he's talking about, he has experience. We're looking forward to playing the game," he added.
On Simon McMenemy
Weiss replaced Simon McMenemy, the Azkals' mentor during their competition in the AFF Cup, just this January.
Azkals team manager Dan Palami had said McMenemy's coaching permit, issued by the Union of European Football Associations, expired December 31. He said this technically allowed them to scout for a new coach for the team.
However, the transition wasn't easily accepted by McMenemy, who said on his Twitter account that he felt "disrespected" with the team management's lack of effort to communicate the decision directly to him.
Weiss told abs-cbnNEWS.com he believes the issue needs to die down for everyone's sake.
"Forget about the past, football is a growing sport," he said.
Nevertheless, Weiss said McMenemy can still pour out his support for the team in the upcoming match in Bacolod.
"He's welcome to watch," Weiss said of the Azkals' former coach.
But Younghusband said he doubted it if McMenemy would indeed watch the games at the Panaad Stadium, the venue of the event, since McMenemy is now in England.
Amid their split, the team acknowledged McMenemy's contribution to the team.
"He deserves the credit," Weiss said.
"Even though he lost his job, he is still part of the team," Borromeo, the team captain, added.
Reposted From ABS-CBN News