BANGKOK - The coach of the Thailand men’s national team believes the Philippine Azkals have grown leaps and bounds since the last time they met in the 2007 edition of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.
“They’re a very strong team. They played very well in their last three friendly matches,” said Winfrid Schafer, the German coach of the War Elephants during pre-match press conference of the AFF at the Golden Tulip Hotel Friday, eve of the Azkals’ opening game against the host.
“But our team is very hungry for success,” added the coach.
The Thais blanked the Filipinos, 4-0, in their last AFF meeting five years ago.
At least three key Azkals have caught the attention of Schaefer in homegrown Filipino keeper Ed Sacapano, striker Denis Wolf, and midfielder Patrick Reichelt.
The Thai coach, a German native like Azkals counterpart Michael Weiss, was impressed with Sacapaño’s performance in the team’s 1-0 win over Singapore in their friendly last week in Cebu.
“Their goalkeeper in the last match was very good. I saw him, the number twenty (Wolf), and number twenty-nine (Reichelt),” said Schafer.