Weiss: Best yet to come for AzkalsBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Under scrutiny after the exclusion of two of its most popular players, the Philippines proved more than equal to the challenge in the Paulino Alcantara Peace Cup.
Pulling off a three-match sweep capped by a 3-1 conquest of Chinese-Taipei Saturday night at Rizal Memorial Stadium, the Azkals, playing some attractive football, captured the first international title for the country in 99 years.
While the bigger goal remains the AFF Suzuki Cup crown in November in Bangkok, the win was a huge confidence boost for the side that unleashed its youth brigade in the tournament.
But Azkals coach Michael Weiss has no illusions that the Peace Cup victory will easily translate to success in the Suzuki Cup.
“The work of the last two to three months paid off and the best is yet to come,” said Weiss, whose side trained in Chicago for two weeks in August. “We hope to continue to build on this success.”
With key players based in Europe unavailable and the unceremonious dropping of Phil and James Younghusband, Weiss fielded a side made up mostly of Under-23 players with the exception of veterans Chieffy Caligdong and Denis Wolf, the tournament MVP and top scorer.
The likes of Jeff Christiaens, Demitrius Omphroy, OJ Porteria, Jason de Jong, Marwin Angeles and Matthew Uy, who excelled with his distribution and composure at midfield, repaid Weiss’ faith as they combined in a cohesive display that led to a total of nine goals in three matches.
“We’re happy that this young team is really showing what they are capable of,” said Azkals manager Dan Palami, who missed the Saturday clash because of a family matter. “It gives us a lot of hope for the future.”