THE stakes are now higher and Philippine men’s football team manager Dan Palami is in search for a new coach who can lead the Azkals to greater heights in the near future.
As the Philippine Football Federation announced that Michael Weiss’ reign as Azkals coach officially ends on Wednesday, Palami has started looking for a coach who can take the national team to the next level beginning in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, which offers a lone ticket to the 2015 Asian Cup.
Under Weiss, the Azkals had their best finishes in major international tournaments, capturing third place in the 2012 Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup and reaching the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup semifinals once again in the same year.
The German also guided the Filipino booters to two Philippine Peace Cup conquests, the first in 2012 when the country ended a title drought of almost a century.
The Azkals also saw a remarkable rise in their world ranking, where they are now at 127th, a new all-time high, with Weiss at the helm.
However, Weiss has been under the gun for sometime now, with doubts over his ability to take the Azkals to new heights raised time and again over the last few years.
“He gave us the concrete results we wanted… so I’m happy with how he performed for us,” Palami said as he paid tribute to the German mentor.
“(But) the question now is: now that the stakes are really high, are we ready to take on somebody who might be able to bring us higher?” he added.
The 43-year-old businessman from Tacloban said he is taking a calculated risk with the decision to replace Weiss at this stage of the Azkals' rise to prominence.
“So it’s a gamble. It’s a chance that has to be taken,” he said.
“And for as long as the players know where we’re going and they still believe in the dream and still believe in the blueprint that I have prepared for the team, then any change in coaching will inure to the benefit of the team if we find the right replacement,” Palami added. “And that’s where the challenge will be.”
Palami on Sunday bared a shortlist of six overseas-based candidates who had playing experiences with top clubs in the English Premier League.
And he hopes to interview each one over a 15-day period as he revealed his criteria for choosing.
Foremost is that the coach should be familiar with how the “Asian setting” is and has very good credential in coaching a national team or high-level club.
Palami also hopes the chosen one will be ready to adjust to certain situations, like handling a national side that has a mix of foreign and local-based players, and conditions in the country where there is a lack of pitches and the national league still developing.
“They have to be ready to face that reality and ready to lead the team despite the limitations in resources as well as opportunities for practices.”