- Published on Sunday, 27 January 2013 23:00
- Written by BONG PEDRALVEZ
By A Web design Company
WITH Michael Weiss’ contract more or less settled, siblings James and Phil Younghusband are looking forward to working with the German coach anew as the Philippine Azkals prepare for the AFC Challenge Cup Group E qualifying tournament at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in late March.
“It’s good we have a coach for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. I believe this (new contract) will make coach Michael hungrier and more motivated in our build-up,” James said on the side during the recent inauguration of the newly-renovated track oval of De La Salle University-Dasmarinas.
He and younger brother Phil were guests at the affair along with actor Diether Ocampo, a returning La Salle student, and former track star Elma Muros-Posadas.
Weiss was expected to finalize his new deal over the weekend with the Philippine Football Federation, which offered him a six-month extension. The 47-year-old mentor steered the Azkals to their second straight AFF Suzuki Cup semifinal stint last December.
If the Filipino booters fail to top the March 22 to 26 four-nation competition also featuring Brunei, Cambodia and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup runner-up Turkmenistan, they won’t have to train for the next Suzuki Cup until November 2014.
PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes earlier hinted Weiss could have a new longer deal if the Azkals top the coming tourney.
James welcomed the national team’s return to training, which begins today with a three-day camp at the Rizal Memorial pitch, considering the stakes involved in the Group E qualifiers, where the winner advances to the main tournament in Maldives early next year.
“Every game counts in this tournament,” noted Phil“, so it’s good to finally start training again.”
James pointed out they faced a similar situation back in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers held in Iloilo City, when they did not lose a match but were eased out on goal difference by group champion Tajikistan, which went on to rule the AFC Challenge Cup that same year.
“This is why our build-up for the tournament is very important,” he added.
Both brothers were also glad the tournament dates were scheduled on FIFA international friendlies, meaning overseas-based pro teammates like Neil Etheridge, Stefan Schrock, Jerry Lucena, Paul Mulders, Jerry Lucena and Dennis Cagara can suit up for the competition.
Also expected to be tapped for his first tour of duty with the Azkals is Filipino-Spanish striker Javier Patinio, who plays for Spanish Second Division club Cordoba and was in Manila last week to process his Philippine passport.
“We definitely have a strong squad for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers,” said the brothers.
After the three-day training camp, the national team leaves for Myanmar later this week for a friendly match with the Burmese national side on Feb. 6 in Yangon, then flies to Vietnam for another goodwill game against the Vietnamese on Feb. 10.