A COMBINATION of aggressive plays, cohesion and togetherness will bring good results to the Philippine Azkals national men’s football team in the tournament proper of the 2014 Asian Football Cup Challenge in Maldives.
Coach Hans Michael Weiss said this after the Azkals got past Turkmenistan, 1-0, last Tuesday to top the Group E eliminations at the Rizal Memorial football stadium.
Their third consecutive victory, which included a default win over no-show Brunei, allowed the Azkals to secure one of eight slots in the final round with Turkmenistan.
“These are the things that we have to work on. We have to work on getting the players on the ball, on possession, and on linking (Stephan) Schrock, (Javier) Patino and Phil (Younghusband) together. We have a strong base in defense,” said Weiss.
The Azkals were able to score their historic win over Turkmenistan on the heroics of Younghusband in the 66th minutes, following his quick reaction on a loose-ball from a cross from Dennis Cagara.
The present Azkals' roster is said to be the strongest line-up ever formed recently, following the availability of nine Europe-based Filipinos, who have been playing in top-class professional leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and Denmark.
The Philippines will now join host Maldives, Southeast Asian neighbors Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Palestine, participants which topped Groups A, B, C, and D respectively.
Turkmenistan in Group E, and Bangladesh in Group D, also made it as the tournament's best and better ranked runners-up overall.
Weiss, whose six-month contract extension has now been extended until June next year, believes that keeping the players together will help the team improve its performance.
“We still have to step up, and there’s a lot of things to do. You can improve the team, if the players are together often. And I always want the players together,” added Weiss.
The presence of two key players spelled the difference for the Azkals, following the return of Fil-German Stephan Schrock and acceptance of Fil Spanish striker Javier Patino.
Schrock showed his skills in creating scoring opportunities at the left wing, as he helped striker Phil Younghusband score goals and become the best scorer in the tournament with five.
Patiño, who scored twice against Cambodia, emerged as the second offensive threat of the Azkals.
In preparing for Maldives, the Azkals are scheduled to have three friendlies this June.
They are slated to play an away-game in Hong Kong on June 4, before going back to Manila for two more friendlies on June 8 and 12, against Vietnam and a Middle-Eastern country.
The dates are all Fifa match days.
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