MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) yesterday confirmed it was giving Azkals coach Michael Weiss the boot and said it effected a coaching change in an effort to boost the Pinoy booters’ progress.
“PFF made a year-end evaluation with team management and determined that a re-organization of the coaching staff is best for the team,” the federation said in an official statement. “PFF officials thanked coach Weiss for his contributions to the national team.”
Weiss’ services would be terminated effective Jan. 15 and while the search for a replacement is ongoing, assistant coach Edwin Cabalida has been tapped to handle the Azkals’ initial training.
Team manager Dan Palami earlier said they have started shopping around for Weiss’ replacement, with six candidates making his short list. He declined to name the prospects but stressed they have experiences with high profile clubs like Barcelona, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Liverpool.
Palami said they are looking for a coach who can adjust to the “peculiar” needs of Phl football.
“I want a coach that will be familiar with how the Asian setting is for football, that’s No. 1. But of course, I’d need somebody who has good credentials coaching a national team or high-level club and of course someone who’s ready to adjust to the conditions in Phl, where national team players are a mix of foreign-and local-based and he has to work on ensuring that he can be ready with a first team that’s local based and a first team that could be a mixed of local and foreign based players,” he said.
“We don’t really have the most ideal conditions for the national team because we still lack pitches, our national league is still developing so they have to be ready to face that reality and eventually lead the team despite limitations in resources as well as opportunities for the team to practice,” he added.
This won’t be the first time for the Azkals to change coach before a major competition. In January 2011 or a month before the playoff against Mongolia in the Fifa World Cup Asian qualifiers, the Azkals didn’t extend Simon McMenemi and hired Weiss in his place.
The new coach will have some five months to blend with Phl XI before it competes in the Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup in May.
“Five months is actually short but in any case, if we’ll have more practice sessions locally and the coach has credential to ensure that the foreign-based players immediately accept him, then I think we stand a good chance,” said Palami.
The Azkals are lining up a string of local and foreign activities as part of preparations for the Asian Cup-qualifying Challenge Cup, including friendlies against Dubai, Qatar and Asean All Stars, a tournament in Pakistan, and training camps at the Gulf or Europe.