MANILA, Philippines – It was the Philippine Azkals' tenacity in defense that propelled them past powerhouse Vietnam in their 2012 Suzuki Cup encounter, national team coach Michael Weiss said Tuesday.
Weiss, who sat out the game after being suspended for an infraction during the Philippines-Thailand match, said his team was steadfast in defending against Vietnam.
“My team fought like lions and warriors and withstood the power attacks of Vietnam. You can not give Vietnam even a meter’s space - they would exploit it sooner or later,” the German coach said in the tournament’s official website.
The win has given the Azkals 3 points and improved their chances of reaching the knockout stage.
Weiss had to be contented watching the game from the stands, but he was pleased that his boys were able to carry out his instructions.
“It was a fantastic performance and we are back in the race. We now play a strong Philippines side and hopefully we can reach the semi-finals,” he said.
Part of his strategy against Vietnam was to save some of his players, including goal scorer Chieffy Caligdong, Angel Guirado and Denis Wolf, for the second half.
With consistent defense and fresher legs for attacks, the Azkals pulled off a 1-0 win over the 2008 champions.
“We had to employ excessive defensive style with counter attacks which just came into full swing with the changes we made with fresh players coming on,” said Weiss.
“Angel Guirado, Emelio Caligdong and Denis Wolf changed the match but that would not have been possible without the great defensive display.”
The Philippine side lost its opening game to host Thailand, 2-1.
But the win over Vietnam enabled the Azkals to keep its hopes alive.
Meanwhile, Vietnam coach Phan Thanh Hung acknowledged that the Filipinos' defense was tough to crack.
That and the Vietnamese's poor communication on the field cost them the victory, said Thanh Hung.
“Before the game the whole team had good preparation in the aspect of mentality but when the match started so many players froze and made wrong passes. And the goal, it came from a wrong pass from one player,” said the Viet coach.
“They (Azkals) had a mass defense and it was difficult to break it down. We could not create any good chances or do anything that could turn the game,” he added.
The Philippines will end its Group A matches with a game against Myanmar on Friday.