PHILIPPINE men’s football team coach Michael Weiss believes the Azkals’ preparations for the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup qualifier this March will also be beneficial for the training of the 23-and-under squad in the Southeast Asian Games later this year in Myanmar.
Practice for members of the two national teams began Monday, which the German mentor admitted as being a little bit later than desired.
“The preparations have started a little bit late and have yet been complete because we lack, as of this moment, opponents,” said Weiss, who conducted training but still refused to comment if he has already signed the new six-month contract offered to him by the Philippine Football Federation to continue handling the national team.
“(But) we’ll make the best of the situation because we still have 10 players missing from the Suzuki Cup,” Weiss added as the Azkals embark on a friendly against Myanmar this February 6 without most of their Filipino-foreign based stalwarts.
“So we’ll be a totally different lineup, a young lineup already with the perspective of the SEA Games, so all the young players who haven’t played recently will get their chance which is also good.”
Among the national training pool members who practiced on Monday and still eligible for the 23-and-under squad were Jeff Christiaens, twins Marwin and Marvin Angeles, Matt Uy, Jason de Jong, and OJ Porteria.
They trained along with Manila-based mainstays James and Phil Younghusband, Patrick Reichelt, Chris Greatwich, Ed Sacapaño, and Ref Cuaresma; along with Azkals aspirants Tating Pasilan, Patrick Deyto, Arnie Pasinabo, Reynald Villareal, and Ronnie Aguisanda.
The Azkals, though, are expected to have a full complement of players for the Challenge Cup in Manila from March 22 to 26, considering the stretch are all Fifa-set international game dates, which requires professional clubs worldwide to release their players for national team duty.
And one overseas-based booter Weiss is thrilled to see is Javier Patiño, the 24-year-old Cordoba standout who is expected to arrive in the country from Spain late in the day and process his Philippine citizenship papers in the next two days.
“I find (his arrival) more than exciting because a player who, during the season, makes a long trip to the Philippines, getting ready to obtain his passport is a very good sign for us.”
“He gives us another strong option that is physically top fit, which we need in order for us to get to a higher level.”