MANILA, Philippines – Football coach Hans Michael Weiss is appreciative of the support and adoration extended by local fans to the Philippine Azkals.
Weiss said Filipinos are becoming more passionate about football and it shows each time the Azkals play at home.
“When we play in Manila, the stadiums are totally sold out nowadays,” said Weiss on FIFA.com.
“The fans are a riot of color and adore my lads as if they were pop stars. The passion takes your breath away. I get goose bumps every time.”
But he said there’s also the danger of the fans’ high expectations.
“I think there's a danger that folk want too much, too soon. The first taste of success is sweet, but let no-one forget that we still have to take it step-by-step," he said.
In their last outing, the Philippine Azkals surprised their international counterparts in the AFC Challenge Cup.
After losing to North Korea, the Azkals pulled the rug from under former Challenge Cup titlists India and Tajikistan.
They yielded to Turkmenistan in the semifinal round but nabbed third place by beating Palestine.
It was the Philippines' best ever finish in the tournament.
“Winning bronze was the greatest success in the history of the association. The players have made themselves immortal," Weiss said. “Before the tournament, no-one really took us that seriously, but now we sense plenty of respect.