Weiss says Philippine Azkals still lack cohesion
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Azkals will start its campaign in the Long Teng Cup in Taiwan as an underdog despite parading a squad deemed stronger than what they had last year.
The Azkals’ German coach Michael Weiss said the team still lacks cohesion with the entry of several new players.
With Europe-based aces Neil Etheridge, Stephan Schrock and Paul Mulders unavailable because of club commitments, Weiss is taking a mix of players of 10 mainstays and several members in the Under-23 pool for the four-nation event starting September 28 at the Kaohsiung National Stadium.
“We’re still lacking in some areas,” said Weiss, who, along with the squad left for Taiwan Wednesday. “Our preparation lacked consistency. But the positive thing is there are new players ready to take responsibility.”
Weiss said the first match against defending champion Hong Kong on Friday could well determine how the Azkals will fare in the tournament.
The Azkals finished third last year, after winning over Macau (5-0), tying Chinese-Taipei (1-1) and losing to Hong Kong (2-4).
Among the newcomers are brothers Mark and Matthew Hartmann, Fil-Spaniard Carli De Murga, Lexton Moy, and goalkeeper Roland Muller and defender Oliver Poetschke, both Fil-Germans.
The Azkals crushed Kaya FC, 5-0, in their final tuneup match last Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, but Weiss said “it was only the first time that some of the players were on the field together.”
“It will take some time to fulfill the potential of the team,” said Weiss, whose squad is also preparing for friendly matches against Singapore and Nepal in October.
Joining co-skippers Aly Borromeo and Chieffy Caligdong, senior team regulars Phil and James Younghusband, Roel Gener, Angel Guirado, Misagh Bahadoran, Ian Araneta, Jason de Jong and Eduard Sacapano are Under-23 players Lemuel Unabia, Reymark Fernandez, Jeff Christiaens and Nickson Leonora.
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