MICHAEL Weiss gained a new lease on life as Philippine men’s football team coach after the Azkals emerged on top of the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup Group E qualifiers.
The Azkals’ 1-0 victory against Turkmenistan at the close of the meet at the Rizal Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night not only booked for the national team a ticket to the Challenge Cup main tournament in Maldives next year, but also ensured the German mentor will remain on the job at least until next year.
Weiss last month signed a six-month contract that contains an extension clause hinging on the Azkals’ qualification to the Challenge Cup main round next year.
“In his contract, it actually states that if he gets us through the qualifiers, then he will have the privilege to coach the team in the final round,” Azkals manager Dan Palami said.
“So barring any unforeseen events, then he will be there in 2014.”
Topping the qualifiers was another achievement for the Azkals under Weiss.
The German mentor previously steered the Filipino booters to a third-place finish in the 2012 edition of the Challenge Cup in March, a championship in the Philippine Peace Cup in September, and a second straight semifinal appearance in the Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup last December.
Still, Philippine Football Federation president Mariano ‘Nonong’ Araneta pointed out that the Azkals' qualification was "expected" considering the talent at Weiss' disposal.
Although Araneta made it clear that he is not taking anything away from Weiss, the PFF chief credited the Azkals’ star-studded lineup as the main reason for the success in the qualifiers.
“If you look at the team we have, it was expected,” he said.
Araneta also thought the German mentor could have used more players from the bench, considering that no substitutions were made against Cambodia last Sunday, and only James Younghusband and OJ Porteria came in as replacements against the Turkmen.
“I’m just saying he should have more confidence on the players. You have quality players on the bench. And you should use them,” stressed the PFF chief.