Azkals also flaunting its best coaching staff with Eriksson, Cooper, Greatwich
KUALA LUMPUR—The Philippines isn’t just boasting its strongest squad in the AFF Suzuki Cup, but probably its finest coaching staff made up of a World Cup veteran, a champion in the Thai Premier League and a former player whose exploits helped the country make its mark in this competition.
Swedish coach Sven Goran Eriksson may be hogging the limelight, but technical advisor Scott Cooper and former national team player Chris Greatwich have played equally important roles in making sure the Azkals are in fine form in the competition.
The Azkals opened the tournament with a 1-0 win against Singapore last Tuesday with Patrick Reichelt scoring the winner in the second half.
With Singapore tough to break down, the coaches tweaked the Azkals’ game in the second half, pushing them to move the ball quicker and sending in a target man in James Younghusband, who was instrumental in Reichelt’s goal.
Azkals manager Dan Palami has pulled out all the stops to ensure the Azkals’ brain trust will be the best in the competition.
“This shows how serious we are of winning the competition,” said Palami as the Azkals prepared to take on Timor Leste at Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium here last Saturday night. “Sven, Scott and Chris form a really great team that will guide the players to success in the tournament.”
Greatwich insists the jury is still out on their team as the competition has only started.
“Ultimately, we will be judged by results,” he said. “We’re all here to deliver the title.”
But Greatwich, for one, has been enjoying the experience working with two high-caliber coaches in Eriksson and Cooper, who won a Thai Premier League title with Buriram five years ago.
“The dynamic between us has been really good,” said Greatwich, who steered Kaya Iloilo to the Copa Paulino Alcantara title recently. “Obviously we bring different things to the table. With Sven, he brings in a wealth of experience. He’s coached at the highest level and has imparted a lot of his experience with the staff and players.”
Greatwich said his role is to share his knowledge on players in the team, most of which he has played with or played against.
“The blend and combination of the three of us has worked well,” he said. “I for one, enjoy working with Sven and Scott.”
The Azkals legend believes the squad can still get better as the tournament progresses noting the second half performance against Singapore.
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