Marquee SEA teams up next for Philippine Azkals


MANILA, Philippines – A series of friendly matches against powerhouse sides in the Southeast Asian region in June will be the next assignment for the Philippine Azkals, who are coming off a third place finish in the AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Azkals coach Michael Weiss said there are plans for four friendly matches from June 2-12, preferably against Southeast Asian top teams Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“That will be important because these are massive matches against the strongest contenders for the Suzuki Cup,” said Weiss, who will now focus his attention on the Asean tournament where the Azkals reached the semifinals two years ago in Vietnam.

“This is the level we have to play and then the group becomes stronger,” Weiss said. “It’s important that we have our best available players for the matches to really see where we stand.”

Weiss is tempering expectations in the future as he tries to put the success of the national side on a “stable platform.”

The Azkals won three matches—against Tajikistan, India and Palestine—and lost two to finalists North Korea and Turkmenistan in the Challenge Cup as the country posted its best finish, but Weiss said sustaining the success is easier said than done.

The Azkals pulled off the third-place finish even without some of their best players in Stephan Schrock, Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara, who are tied up with their respective European clubs during the tournament.  But the three players are inclined to join the side in June as it is part of the Fifa calendar.

“This is a miracle story going on but you will only realize this 10 to 15 years from now,” said Weiss of the Azkals’ impressive run in Nepal.

“There’s no problem now because everything is on the rise. But the hardships will come. To put this in a stable platform is the challenge for all the people involved and people who make decisions.”

The Azkals will take a one-month break as players return to their respective clubs in the United Football League.

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  • peteryang47

    Yes i agreed with HRK! that Philippines soccer team is the top emerging team in the catergory, matter of fact the team  the most improved team in  the AFC tournament and in south east asia. In Phil,(i nicknamed him as ‘THE LETHAL WEAPON” of the Philippines)  you have the one of the best natural goal scorer, if not the best, in this region..
    I started to play my soccer during my country greatest era (when we beat Arsenal, Australia, Japan South Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Usa, New Zealand, Cruzerio (Brazil), etc and drew with England national B team that consist of professional players from their 1st division league Now knowned as EPL) and with my humble experience, i know a good team and player when i see one.and without a doubt Philippines soccer team is the most emerging team (better than my country national team, sad to say, but its the truth)  My own personal view on the team is that they need to keep working on their mental strength approach,,keep their feets firmly on the ground, and success (trophies/medals) will be within sight. God speeds  

  • HRK1

    Just a thought…yes, we did come 3rd in the Challenge Cup.

    But I think (and do readers agree?), that we are actually the top team in the emerging nations category.

    As we know, the Challenge Cup was initiated by the AFC to allow the lowest teams in Asia, classified as Category 3 – Emerging Nations (ie PHI, PAL. Nepal etc), compete against other emerging nations. To add spice into the competition, AFC added 4 teams from Category 2 – Developing Nations (ie Taj, Turkmen, India, Myanmar), plus 1 low rank team from Category 1 – Developed Nations (NKor).

    Of those teams, Myanmar did not qualify for the Group Stages, we beat India and Taj. We were near competitive vs Turk (if it wasnt for lapses in concentration things could’ve been different). And NKor’s coach admitted that PHI was hard to beat and they really needed to work hard to win against us.

    So, if you put aside Nkor winning the Challenge cup (which was almost a certainty due to their Category 1 classification) and you put aside Turkmen’s 2nd place (they were second favourite, being the only Category 2 country in the semis)….which means PHI and PAL were the only true emerging nations in the competition (a competition which was initiated for emerging nations only). Hence, coming 3rd, we are in fact top of the emerging nations.

    I’ll add that to the other milestones of:
    – its our second semi appearance in 15 months (counting from the 2010 suzuki cup)
    – its our first semi in the CC, on what technically is our first attempt “to qualify” for the competition
    – of the 4 teams in the semi, we needed to start from the bottom (remember, vs Mongolia, pre qualification knock-out game, Feb 2011), we are the only team in the semis that came from the pre-qualification knock-out stage
    – in beating India and Taj, we’ve beaten teams we haven’t beaten before (and in fact, it should be on par with our win against Vietnam, considering India is the all-time South Asian Champions and Taj is a former soveit republic that also contributed top players for the USSR)
    – we reached the semi from the group of death
    – on a serious note, we were also the team that generated a lot of yellow cards and 1 red (and schrock and borro were not even in the team) – the management need to address this issue, we can’t have players gaining too many cards during a competition.

    So, these milestones are still small steps in comparison to the big / global football. But it is a start from the bottom (where we came from). The challenge now is to make us more consistent, competitive and drive our football to the next level. It make take years (5-15), but we need to be patient.

  • Cruxofthematter

    The Philippines need a new swank, 25,000 seater stadium to put its field sports in the world-class map. Otherwise, rely on the Azkals for no mean feats.

  • sdasfaf

    june pa? ang tagal nman!…..

  • Rensi Rosales

    I hope they will qualify in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Oz

    • alfred_derfla

      hope that schrock, lucena, cagara and mulders will suit up in the team with phil, wolf and angel in the up front…….they will be unbeatable in southeast and south asian areas……

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