Monday, 10 January 2011

New-look Azkals parade new coach against Mongolia

Business Mirror

When the men’s national team takes to the Panaad pitch in Bacolod on February 9 for the first match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup against Mongolia, the players will do so with a new head coach and a different lineup.

Hans Michael Weiss, a 45-year-old German with a coaching résumé that has seen him patrol pitches from Japan to China to Rwanda, is now the head coach of the Azkals. He replaced Simon McMenemy, who during his four-month stint with the nationals steered them to a semifinals finish in the 2010 Suzuki Cup.

McMenemy’s lack of a “B” coaching license from the Fifa automatically eliminated him from continuing the job for the Challenge Cup where it is a requirement.

The Deutscher Fussball Bund (German Football Federation) got in touch with the national team management, headed by Dan Palami, even before the Azkals began their group stage stint in the Suzuki Cup in Vietnam to offer their help. But with the Suzuki Cup ongoing, Palami was unable to take up the offer until last week.

The Germans offered the services of any one of three coaches—Weiss, Karsten Neitzel and Lutz Pfannenstiel. Of the three, Weiss was tapped to coach with Pfannenstiel, a goalkeeper, possibly helping out. He is the only professional player in the world to have played on all six continents and founded Global United FC, a team of ex-professionals who champion awareness of climate change.

While in Germany, Palami’s group met with several Filipino-Germans who expressed interest in playing for the Philippines. They include brothers Manuel, Mike and Marko Ott; and Mark Drinkuth, who was with the Azkals in the Vietnam leg of the 2010 Suzuki Cup.

William Guerridoni, Oliver Potsche, Patrick Reichelt, Patrick Herget and Ralph Koch also showed interest, as well as Filipino-Dane Dennis Cagara, who was reported to express interest but could be encountering problems because Denmark does not allow dual citizenship. Palami said he met Cagara’s father, a fellow Leyte native like himself, during the holidays.

The team will conduct open tryouts for the national team from January 17 to 19 at the University of Makati from 4 to 6 p.m.

After the Panaad match with Mongolia, the Azkals will play an away game in Ulaanbaatar on March 15.

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