Former Philippine Azkals head coach Michael Weiss. File Photo
MANILA, Philippines – Former Philippine Azkals head coach Michael Weiss is dealing with mixed emotions as he said goodbye to the team that he coached for three years.
Weiss made no secret of the fact that he dealt with several challenges in his three years at the helm. But he said he is proud of what he has achieved with the Azkals, including bringing the team to its highest-ever FIFA ranking.
“(Last year), things got a little bit… I don’t want to say messy, but we were drifting apart,” Weiss said, referring to himself and management. “So we didn’t have the preparations as they should have been.”
“You could imagine that some things like this happen, because I was very vocal, and also very strong over defending the team against not so good influences from outside, and maybe some people too it personal or took it against them,” he added. “That was never my intention.”
Even so, the Azkals rose to 127th in the FIFA world rankings last year, their highest ever.
“Imagine we brought the team from 160 in 2011 now to 127, No. 1 in Southeast Asia,” said Weiss. “I think the numbers don’t lie, but I don’t want to put these only on my shoulders.”
“It’s the team,” he stressed. “I’m part of the team and I’m very happy to have been part of this wonderful experience.”
Weiss is admittedly disappointed that he will not get to coach the Azkals in the AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives this May, where the team is hoping to achieve their goal of qualifying to the Asian Cup.
“Of course I’m disappointed, to be taken (away) the opportunity for what I have worked very hard together with the staff and the players for three years,” he said. “To be taken away, this dream of myself to go to the Asian Cup for the Philippines and with the Philippine football, it’s a sad thing.”
“But it happens in football,” he added.
Weiss expressed his gratitude to the players and the Azkals coaching staff, as well as the management of the team, even though he acknowledged that his relationship with the management “was not so good anymore” in 2013.
“The people have the right to make decisions like that if they think they have to, and I wish the team, management and the PFF all the best,” he said.
Weiss was replaced by Thomas Dooley, who kicked off the preparation for the AFC Challenge Cup earlier this week with a 34-man training pool. -- From a report by Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News.